No fewer than 1,000 shops and several vehicles were torched in the violent clash that occurred between Christian and Muslim youths in Kaduna on Monday over girls, as the death toll rose to 12 yesterday.
When Vanguard visited the scene yesterday, the large scale destruction that trailed the clash which engulfed Kasuwan Magani town in Kajuru Local Government Area of the state was benumbing.
Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Austin Iwar, who disclosed the new death toll yesterday, said 18 people had also been arrested.
Addressing journalists after a fact-finding and assessment visit to the area, the Police Commissioner vowed that no stone would be left unturned in unravelling the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.
The Police Commissioner, in company of the General Officer Commanding I Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major-General Mohammed Mohammed and state commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Modu Goni, expressed shock at the scale of destruction.
He said: “It is unfortunate. As we can see, the level of destruction is very high, some people were killed and properties were destroyed. This is not what we wish for our state, Kaduna.
“Let me say that we will not leave any stone unturned in investigating the remote and immediate causes of this problem. We will talk to the stakeholders here and try to find out what the problem is and through civil problem solving approach and conflict resolution, we will deal with that.”
Police recover petrol bombs, other items
“We will also look at the criminal aspect of it. So far, we have arrested eighteen people we suspect were involved in the crisis. We are working round the clock to ensure that we get to the root of the matter.
“We have recovered a number of dangerous items, including petrol bombs. We believe this is a planned thing and we will get to the root of the matter. We will do a thorough investigation to ensure that it does not happen again.”
He said the police was aware of “skirmishes” in the area two weeks ago and had made some arrests “but we did not know that there was a grand design to carry out massive destruction as it happened.”
He defended police response to the crisis, saying he mobilized his men and deployed to the area as soon as the Police received reports of the crisis.
“The most important thing to us is, when was it reported to us? Travelling from Kaduna to this place takes about forty minutes. We needed to prepare and mobilize our men. Police officers are not like items sitting on the shelves of supermarkets.
“We needed to bring people from other places. We took necessary steps to check the crisis. We brought in military reinforcement, Civil Defence and Police reinforcement,” he added.
The Police commissioner said 11 victims of the crisis were “buried around12 midnight”, while one person who sustained injuries later died in the hospital yesterday.
Crisis started on Monday, when a Christian girl who was allegedly engaged to a Muslim man was about to convert to Islam, a development that angered youths of the predominantly Christian settlement.