One person died on Saturday in a stampede that followed an attempted attack on a mosque in Maiduguri by suspected BokoHaram insurgents.
Pandemonium broke out at the l-Amin Daggash Mosque in the GRAas worshippers fled for safety upon hearing the sound of gunshots near the mosque.
Eyewitnesses said that an unspecified number of men suspected to be Boko Haram members had approached the mosque shooting into the air to scare away worshippers..
However, when they tried to gain entrance into the mosque, apparently to launch an attack, they were reportedly repelled by heavily armed vigilante youths who were providing security there.
In an attempt to flee the scene and the escape the crossfire, a stampede ensued in which one person was trampled to death and many others injured
An eyewitness said the attempted attack took place at about 4:30pm during a Ramadan sermon at the mosque.
However, the Joint Task Force, JTF, in Borno State, tagged Operation Restore Order, gave an entirely different account of what happened at the mosque, denying that it was an attempted attack by insurgents.
Although it confirmed that one person died near the mosque in GRA, the JTF in a statement signed by its spokesman, Sagir Musa, a lieutenant colonel, said there was no terrorist attack at the mosque.
“The incident was not a terrorist attack as no worship centre inBorno was attack in recent time,” the statement said.
Musa explained that what happened was that a policeman was pursuing somebody who had stolen a tricycle and shot in the air near the mosque leading to a melee during which one person died.
“It was an error of judgement by a policeman on duty that pursued someone who allegedly stole a tricycle and a bag of rice and drove off. The policeman was in mufti, wore NPF Reflective Jacket, pursued the alleged thief and fired two shots,” the JTF spokesman stated.
“The incident happened very close to Al-Amin Mosque when Ramadan preaching was on. The firing by the policemen attracted the attention of worshippers including Youths vigilante that were within and around the mosque. As a result, there was pandemonium that led to the death of one minor and three others sustained injuries,” he further explained further.
According to Musa, youths guarding the mosque lynched the policeman, burnt the Toyota Carina belonging to him and the tricycle, adding that “the JTF patrol team rescued/took away the policeman, calmed the youth and restored normalcy to the area.”