The Ogun State Police Command says its men have arrested six suspected members of the dreaded cult groups, Eiye and Aiye, while engaging in a supremacy battle within the Ijaye area of Abeokuta, the state capital.
According to a press statement by the police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the suspects; Kazeem Ogundairo, Nasiru Idris, Ayo Joshua, Damilare Shogbamu, Bisiriyu Ibrahim Owoyele and Labulo Jamiu, were arrested following a distress call from residents of Ijaye, suggesting that the cultists were rioting within the area.
“Upon receiving the distress call, the Commissioner of Police, CP Lanre Bankole, directed the special squad led by ACP Bolanle Muritala to move to the scene and bring the situation under control,” the statement partly read.
On sighting the policemen, some of the hoodlums ran in different directions, while some engaged the policemen with dangerous weapons.
At the end of the encounter, the squad succeeded in arresting six hoodlums, while others escaped.
The police spokesperson further stated that CP Lanre Bankole has ordered a continuous operation to clamp down on all known cultists within the state, noting that an end must come to their nefarious activities.
At least 75 inmates died Tuesday and several were injured in riots blamed on gang rivalry at three jails in Ecuador’s overcrowded prison system, authorities said.
As security forces battled to regain control, distraught family members waited desperately for news outside the prison in Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil, where officials said 21 died.
Another 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in the south and eight in Latacunga in the center of the South American country, according to Edmundo Moncayo, director of the government’s SNAI prisons management body.
“We want the death list given to us,” said Daniela Soria, 29, one of about 40 women outside the Guayaquil prison, many of them in tears.
“We know that the problems are not over because everyone there has a phone and my husband doesn’t call me,” she told AFP.
Earlier, she received a WhatsApp voice message from her husband, Ricardo, which she played back for AFP. “They are going to kill me, get me out of here!” he could be heard exclaiming, the last she heard from him.
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, on Twitter, attributed the riots to “criminal organizations” engaged in “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons.”
The authorities, he said, “are acting to retake control.”
The military was deployed to help police quell the uprising.
The public defender’s office, an entity akin to an ombudsman set up to defend human rights, called the violence “an unprecedented massacre” and expressed its “concern over the lack of security in the country, which is reflected in the increase in crime and violence inside these prison facilities.”
‘Like a market’
The prosecuting authority said several inmates were left injured in fighting between “criminal gangs,” including two at Guayaquil in serious condition.
Several police were also injured, said Moncayo, but no deaths have been reported among security personnel.
Police commander Patricio Carrillo described the situation as “critical,” while Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino created a centralized command post to respond to what he said was “concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in penitentiary centers.”
The prison authority described fierce fighting between organized gangs that go by names such as Los Pipos, Los Lobos and Tigrones. They rely on drug trafficking and operate their criminal enterprises from prison.
Moncayo told reporters that on Monday, guards seized two firearms that were to be used to kill the leader of a group imprisoned in Guayaquil.
“Inside, it is like a market. There is everything: drugs, arms, even puppies. Everything is sold,” said Soria, the wife of prisoner Ricardo.
In order to reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic, the government commuted the sentences of people convicted of minor offences, reducing overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.
This still leaves Ecuador’s prison system, with a capacity to house 29,000 inmates in 60-odd facilities, with a prisoner population of 38,000.
There are 1,500 guards to oversee them.
Dearth of guards
The SNAI has said a dearth of personnel “hinders immediate response” to prisoner revolts.
Last year, inmate disputes left 51 dead, according to police figures.
A 90-day state of emergency in the country’s jails was ordered by Moreno last year to try to bring gang activity under control and reduce the violence.
But just in December, prison unrest left 11 prisoners dead and seven injured.
Tuesday’s riots coincided with a march of hundreds of indigenous people on Quito to demand a vote recount after a first round of presidential elections this month saw their candidate left out in the cold.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for calm Wednesday after Delhi’s worst sectarian violence in decades left at least 20 people dead and calls for a military curfew.
This week’s battles between Hindus and Muslims have seen mobs armed with swords, guns and acid raze a northeastern district of the Indian capital.
The clashes, which also left almost 200 injured, were triggered by protests against a citizenship law seen by many critics as anti-Muslim and part of Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
They exploded into brutal violence on Monday and Tuesday, with residents forced to flee their homes after seeing their homes destroyed and a mosque attacked.
“I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important… calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest,” Modi tweeted on Wednesday.
Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, a political opponent, called for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over the flashpoint areas.
“Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control situation and instil confidence,” Kejriwal tweeted.
– Fear, anger –
Sunil Kumar, the director of the hospital where many of the wounded were taken, told AFP on Wednesday that almost 60 had gunshot injuries.
On Wednesday morning residents cleaned out the blackened interior of a trashed mosque, including a charred Koran, burned out during the violence in the Ashok Nagar area.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and installing a Hindu religious flag.
Locals accused the police of doing nothing to help — or worse.
“We tried to make many calls to the police… that people are entering our neighbourhoods chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’,” said Naeem Malik, referring to a popular Hindu chant.
“But police did not help us at all. We tried to save the women at the protest site but instead policemen started beating us up,” Malik said, showing wounds on his leg and hands.
Elsewhere a fire engine tried to put out blazes from the previous night, the air thick with smoke from still-smouldering cars, motorbikes, shops and homes.
“They say we are not Indians but we are Indians by blood,” Farhat, 22, a student in Islamic studies, said in her father’s shop as police looked on.
“We are afraid, we left our homes. There is no police in the streets at night, just during the day.”
The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighbourhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes.
“It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?,” a tailor told AFP, adding that he was returning home to his village in northern India.
– ‘Politics of hate’ –
The unrest comes amid growing concerns at home and abroad about the direction of India and the future of its 200 million Muslims since Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP swept to a second term last year.
Sonia Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress party, on Wednesday accused BJP figures of giving “inflammatory speeches spreading an atmosphere of hatred and fear”, including in Delhi city elections this month.
Congress “appeals to the people to reject the politics of hate,” Gandhi said, calling Home Minister Amit Shah, Modi’s close ally, “responsible” for the riots.
Since winning a second term, Modi’s government has revoked the partial autonomy of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, and said it wants to conduct a nationwide citizens’ register to weed out “infiltrators”.
Together with the citizenship law, which fast-tracks claims for persecuted non-Muslim religious immigrants, this has stoked fears that Modi’s master plan is to remould India as a Hindu nation, something he denies.
The citizenship law has sparked months of nationwide protests as well as clashes that killed more than 25 people in December.
In recent weeks sit-ins, mostly by women, have sprung up.
The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday. But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.
Sri Lanka blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Monday after anti-Muslim riots hit several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.
Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the continued religious tension in Sri Lanka since the April 21 attacks by jihadist suicide bombers on three hotels and three churches which left 258 dead.
A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings — which the Islamic State group claims to have helped — and security forces have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.
Police said a mob targetted shops in the north-west town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper. Security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, but the violence spread to nearby towns where Muslim businesses were also attacked.
A motorcycle gang attacked shops in nearby Kuliyapitiya and four members were arrested, officials said. However, dozens of people laid siege to the police station and forced their release.
Despite a night curfew, a mosque was vandalised, local residents said.
Police said the curfew in Chilaw and nearby areas was relaxed Monday, but the social media ban was brought in to head off new violence.
“Don’t laugh more, 1 day u will cry,” was posted on Facebook by a Muslim shopkeeper, and local Christians took it to be a warning of an impending attack.
Mobs smashed the man’s shop and vandalised a nearby mosque prompting security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd. A curfew was imposed from Sunday afternoon until dawn Monday.
There have already been clashes between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, the town north of Colombo that was one of the targets for the suicide attackers.
The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter attacks carried out by local jihadists.
“We call upon the members of the Muslim communities to be more patient and guard your actions and avoid unnecessary postings or hosting on social media,” the ACJU said.
Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecommunications regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms.
The latest unrest came as Catholic churches resumed Sunday masses for the first time since the bombings.
Worshippers were searched before being allowed into churches that were guarded by armed police and troops. There were no reports of disruption to services, however.
Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks, and amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after checking for explosives.
Public schools completed their reopening from extended Easter holidays after the attacks, but attendance was low, according to education authorities.
Upper classes resumed last week while primary school pupils were asked to start Monday.
Private Catholic schools were to open on Tuesday, but many were planning to postpone the reopening until next week, parent groups said.
Muslims make up around 10 per cent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka’s 21 million population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.