Torched church, burned mosque mark Nigerian town’s trauma

Feb 9, 2024

Mangu: charred yellow arches and debris-strewn floors ManguThe large central mosque symbolizes the horror of the violence that swept the northern Nigerian city last month.
On the other side of the Mangu, the burnt shell of Kosin Kwagas Lahir Church shows that even Christians were not spared.
Corrugated sheets flutter in the wind where the church's roof once stood, and a white plastic chair lies crumpled on the brown ash carpet on the floor.
For years, the town mostly escaped the inter-communal violence that often erupts in North Central Plateau State. The Muslims and Christians of Mangu belonged to the same tribe, same families, lived on the same streets and shopped and traded in the same markets.
But in late January, the small farming town was devastated by attacks and reprisals as attackers attacked rival districts with guns and knives. According to Red Cross reports and residents, neighbor attacked neighbor and churches, mosques and schools were destroyed.
At least 25 people were killed in the Mangu violence, which erupted on the same day as an attack on a nearby Christian-dominated village that left 30 dead.
The violence followed Christmas attacks in a neighboring district that left nearly 200 people dead.
Two weeks after the day of violence, many people in Mangu were still shocked by how the city turned against itself and few have clear answers as to why religious harmony was shattered.
Standing in the charred remains of his family home, Jabira Rabio He said an armed mob attacked his community on the outskirts of the city, opened fire and moved to another community and set fire to houses.
The cattle seller said, “We just took our clothes and ran away. All the stuff in my house was burnt.”
The burnt pink walls of their home now surround ash-covered floors. All that remains are a few broken plates, his son's burnt wedding dress and a burnt piece of red carpet.
He said, “We can't say what happened. It happened suddenly. We have always co-existed peacefully.”
Conflicting accounts are emerging throughout Mangu: some say groups of masked, armed men surrounded districts and set fire to homes, others say residents retaliated by beating neighbors and destroying churches and Mosques were set on fire.
Sitting on the divide between Nigeria's mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, Plateau State has been battling inter-communal and ethnic conflict for years.
in rural areas, Fulani Muslim Herders clash with ethnic Mwaghwul farmers, who are mostly Christian, in growing disputes over land, water and cattle grazing.
Mangu is a mostly ethnic Mwaghwul town, but both religions live together.
In Lahir district, Kosin Church was set on fire and dozens of nearby Christian houses were also burned, residents said.
Many of them moved to more predominantly Christian neighborhoods.
“Most Christians from my area moved to this area. I feel safer here, it is mostly Christian,” he said. gideon timothy33, a music producer.
“They are for a lot of reasons, farmers and herders, maybe just for land, it could be a lot of things, but now it has turned into ethno-religious. People are burning churches. It really amazes me. I never expected this.”
More than 8,000 people were displaced by fighting in Mangu and areas around the city, according to an internal Red Cross report seen by AFP. It said the victims suffered gunshot and knife wounds.
Many of them have shifted to other areas of the city to live with family. Some Muslims were asking for help in another mosque.
When gunfire broke out on the first day of violence, Atika Bello fled the house where she had lived for 25 years in the old market area of ​​Mangu. She hid in her mother's house with her five children.
“There were bullets flying and we just prayed and prayed all day and there was no security,” he said.
“I can't let this affect me. I can't leave Mangu, I'll always be here.”
dennis mutkires He said that he was alive only because a Muslim neighbor allowed him to hide in his house and go through the back entrance to avoid the mob.
He passed out with stab wounds, which left him hospitalized in Jos, the state capital, for more than a week.
Now at a relative's house, his own house in Lahir district has been destroyed and his car burnt.
He said, “The neighbour, he is a Muslim brother, opened his gate. He hid me in his house.”
“I managed to escape, otherwise the story would have been different.”

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