February 4, 2023

Fresh attack at mining site threatens traumatized villagers near Jos

Military authorities and local stakeholders meet in Jos at a peace summit day after terrorists attacked miners in Yelwan Zangam

JOS, Nigeria: A bright morning attack in a northern suburb on the outskirts of Jos, the capital of Plateau State on 15 Feb has raised tensions in the surrounding towns.

Dozens of armed men attacked miners on the northwestern corner of Yelwan Zangam, a small Christian town in Jos North Local Government Area according to locals, killing two and injuring several others.

The raiders armed with assault rifles stormed the mining site from a nearby Fulani settlement according to witnesses after a disagreement between some cattle herders and miners.

The result was a “rain of gunfire”, said one witness speaking on background.

The attack months after a late evening raid killed 36 locals including 16 members of a family has raised fears of a terrorists takeover of the community.

A deadly ambush close to the town hours later killed two others according to local officials.

Verbal fights

After verbal fights between a group of herders and artisanal tin miners over land ownership, a marauding band of over 30 men swarm over the site in apparent solidarity with the herders, said a local cleric, Pastor Ishaya Sati.

The grazers accosted the miners for allegedly trespassing into their grazing land but were resisted, said a witness on background.

Minutes after they retreated with their cattle, the same facesgroup returned with the armed militias shooting at everyone in sight, the witness said.

“Luckily, most people on the site had evacuated because it was clear that something was going to go wrong,” said Sati to The Light Bearer by phone.

Less than ten men who were still evacuating their belongings were the victims of the attack which lasted several minutes, Sati said. The attackers killed two people on the spot and injured an unconfirmed number of people, he said.

Security response

The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong in a statement on 16 Feb condemned the attack which he said was “swiftly” contained by securities.

Lalong condemned another attack few miles from the town which he said killed two people along a major highway.

The Governor did not give details of the attack which he said occurred along Jos-Jingre road. But local media reports victims were traveling from Nasarawa to Kano through Jos.

Funeral march

An attack in the Yelwa town on 25 August 2021 killed 36 people in the town. The attack after disagreements between locals and their neighbors from a Fulani settlement followed a mass ambush on travelers in a nearby Gada Biyu suburb which killed 22.

The travelers said to be Muslim worshippers heading to Ondo State from Bauchi were bogged down in gridlock during a solemn march for the funeral of six of over 70 Christians killed in Bassa LGA.

Governor Lalong has asked securities to track the attackers but 48hrs later, no arrest has been confirmed.

Terrorist takeover

Residents have been enveloped in fears of a terrorist takeover of the town, said Sati.

“We are just here. The place is tensed with no securities but I don’t know how long it will take before these people [Fulani militants] takeover this community if this is allowed to continue,” he said.