Army blames attacks, reprisals for death toll in Southern Kaduna

The Army has said Southern Kaduna killings were not the result of one-sided attacks, as reported in some quarters, but that it was working on improving response time across difficult terrain, increasing the number of troops in the area and is expecting support from the Air Force.

Major-General CC Okonkwo, Commander of Operation Safe Haven, said this while addressing a meeting of senior security officials held, on Tuesday, with Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State on the security situation in Southern Kaduna.

The security officials “confirmed that a cycle of attacks and reprisals was compounding criminal activities in the area and causing needless loss of lives and appealed to all sides to embrace peace.”

Okonkwo told the meeting that he had received a deployment of Special Forces, while the Chief of Defence Staff is also sending more troops to reinforce those in the area, to stop the communities from attacking each other, and to create the climate for peace talks.

In his opening remarks, Governor El-Rufai said he came to the meeting “with a heavy heart, saddened by the needless pain several of our communities are enduring in the cycle of violence that is recurring in parts of our state.

“Our task, as always, is to find means of containing the violence and ending the bloodshed.

“Today, we want to hear from you the leaders of the security agencies deployed in the area what further measures can be taken to end the agony.

“On our part, we continue to support the efforts of the security agencies as best as we can.”

On its part, the police traced the outbreak of violence to clashes that started on June 5 and June 11.

Also at the meeting were Brigadier-General OS Aboi, Commander 1 Division Garrison; AVM MI Ibrahim, Air Officer Commanding Air Force Training Command; Brigadier-General EE Eji, Director of Operations at the Defence Intelligence Agency; DCP Sunny Ambrose Onah; AI Koya, Kaduna State Director of DSS; Col. GU Akpan, outgoing Commander Sector 7 of Operation Save Haven, and his successor Col DC Nwakonobi, and officials from the National Intelligence Agency.

Representing Kaduna State Government were Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe; SSG Balarabe Abbas Lawal; Chief of Staff Muhammad Sani Abdullahi; Commissioner for Local Government, Jafaru Sani, and Commissioner for Internal Security & Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.

The Kaduna State House of Assembly was represented by the Speaker, Yusuf Zailani, and the Majority Leader, Haruna Inuwa.

Killings had spiked in Southern Kaduna in recent times, with about 29 killed last Wednesday in separate attacks.

Meanwhile, the Presidency blamed the Southern Kaduna killings on several factors, one of which was politics.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had said an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs, acting on ethnic and religious grounds, are responsible for the unending killings in Southern Kaduna

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