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Taraba violence-hit town protest curfew-induced hunger

KANO (AFP) – Residents of the town where 39 people died in fierce fighting between Christian and Muslim mobs said on Sunday they were fast running out of food and water as a result of the round-the-clock curfew.

The violence also left 30 people injured and scores of houses were set ablaze and destroyed during the clashes in the town of Wukari in Taraba state on Friday, police said.

Authorities imposed a 24-hour indefinite curfew on Wukari, a commercial town, as a result of the bloody unrest.

“Life is becoming difficult for us in Wukari. We have been confined since Friday to our homes. Many of us have run out of food and water,” said a resident on condition of anonymity.

“Nobody anticipated the crisis, and so we did not stockpile food and water supplies,” said the 46-year-old cement trader who urged authorities to ease the curfew.

A housewife in the town and mother of four, who identified herself simply as Maimuna, said, “We have very little to eat at home. I pray the authorities have mercy on us to relax the curfew to enable us to look for food.”

A civil servant who has a wife and three children in Wukari, told AFP that “food and water have become very scarce. My family has resorted to rationing our food because we have only rice and palm oil left and we are also running out of kerosene for cooking.”

Taraba police spokesman, Joseph Kwaji, told AFP on Sunday that troops and policemen were patrolling the town.

“The 24-hour curfew is still in force and all residents are indoors. Policemen and soldiers are patrolling all the streets to maintain law and order,” he said.

He gave no indication when the curfew will be lifted.

Kwaji said Friday’s violence erupted when the funeral procession of a traditional chief from the predominantly Christian Jukun ethnic group marched through a Muslim neighbourhood chanting slogans, which Muslims viewed as an act of provocation.

Tensions have been on the rise in Wukari since February, when a dispute over the use of a football pitch between Muslim and Christian soccer teams set off sectarian riots that claimed several lives.

Friday’s violence came a day after the state government inaugurated a committee to investigate the February violence.


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