Terhemen Abua with additional reports from Daily Trust.
In a bid by operatives of the Nigerian Police to dislodge miners at a mining field in Mayo Sine area, Mambilla Plateau, Taraba State, Thursday, led to a fracas in which many lives were lost.
Investigations reveal that the miners, about 10,500 in number and mostly from neighbouring west African countries, had been carrying out illegal mining in the area for the past 10years with the consent of the community, defied police orders to vacate the mining site, and this resulted in the destruction of temporary structures used by the miners as their houses and confiscated items used by the miners to dig out the precious stones.
A source who does not want name in print said that in an attempt to disperse the rampaging illegal miners, the police opened fire, killing many miners and injured several more.
According to the source, the field where the illegal mining activities were taking place had earlier been allocated to a mining company yet the illegal miners refused to relocate, and the refusal led to the dispatch of police personnel to dislodge them.
The action of the police, it was gathered, angered the miners who started a rampage, chased away the policemen and set equipment of a foreign mining company ablaze, the source added.
Police Public Relations Officer, Taraba Command, David Misal, said he was yet to get details of the operations.