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Several people are believed to have died and many others injured in an ethnic clash in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

Properties worth millions of Naira were also destroyed in the violence described by residents as a clash between Yorubas and Hausas which reportedly started in Sabo area of the ancient town.

The crisis was said to have started on Tuesday in Sabo, and was still raging as at Wednesday afternoon

Although Ife, the ancestral home of the Yorubas has a majority Yoruba population, the Sabo part of the city is mainly occupied by Hausas.

While the exact number of persons killed has not been ascertained, residents said at least five people were killed.

On Wednesday, some Ife indigenes were seen mobilising in their dozens, holding instruments like machetes, knives and other dangerous equipment.

Soldiers and police officers were seen around the city trying to restore calm.

Some residents accused the soldiers of bias, a development which made calming the situation more difficult.

When a PREMIUM TIMES correspondent visited Sabo, many shops were seen to have been razed.

The crisis also caused panicked as several parents on Wednesday rushed to schools to pick their wards, with some of the children taken to the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi.

On Wednesday, the Osun State government declared a dusk to dawn curfew in the ancient city.

A statement by the Director of Communication and Strategy in the office of the governor, Semiu Okanlawon, said the curfew takes effect from Wednesday and would be sustained until Friday.

The statement also said the curfew would be between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily.

POSSIBLE CAUSE

Residents reported that the crisis began after a vehicle driven by a Yoruba man hit the wife of a Hausa trader, which led some youths to attack the driver with machete.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that while the situation was temporarily brought under control, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, went for a reprisal attack, resulting in the escalation of the crisis.

Attempts by the angry mob to gain entrance into the Sabo community was foiled by the police mobile force, but the vulnerable Lagere community was not spared, as the mob went in and attacked a number of Hausa traders.

The government stated, however, that the continued breach of the peace in the area had compelled it to declare the two-day curfew.

It said it had ensured the deployment of heavy security forces to the area, in Ife Central West Local Council Development Area of the state.

“This is to assure all and sundry that the breach of the peace in Ile Ife is not beyond the control of our highly mobilised security forces,” Mr. Okanlawon said.

“To this end, the Governor of the state of Osun, upon receiving reports of the fracas the exact cause of which is still under investigation, has ordered deployment of adequate security forces and is getting minute-by-minute situation reports.

“The Government therefore warns those involved in this act of criminal breach of public peace to end it immediately as the full weight of the law would be brought to bear on anyone arrested.”