Many have been reported killed or injured as illegal miners allegedly resisted an attempt by the police to disrupt their operations in Taraba State.
Police spokesperson in the state, David Misal, confirmed the incident which occurred on Thursday in Mayo Sine area of Mambilla in Sardauna Local Government Area of the state.
Thousands of miners have been operating at the site for more than 10 years.
Local sources said a team of armed police officers had stormed the field to dislodge the miners on Thursday but met a stiff resistance.
"The police on arrival destroyed temporary structures used by the miners as their houses and confiscated items used by the miners to dig out the precious stones,” a local resident, Hammadu Bello, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
"The fields where the illegal mining activities were taking place had been earlier allocated to a mining company but the illegal miners refused to relocate, leading to the dispatch of police personnel to dislodge them,’’ said Mr. Bello.
Another resident, Joseph Kataps, said the action of the police angered the miners ‘’who started a rampage, chased away the policemen and set equipment of a foreign mining company ablaze".
"In an attempt to disperse the rampaging illegal miners, the police opened fire, killing many miners and injuring several more,” Mr. Kataps said.
Confirming the incident, a police spokesperson, Mr. Misal said on Friday: "Yes, the illegal miners attacked the police but for now I am yet to get full details and casualty figures. You may wish to call later," he said.
Mambilla is rich in mining potentials. Recently, the state governor, Darius Ishaku, expressed concern over the activities of illegal miners in the state, saying "until states are involved in mining licensing process, economic diversification will be a mirage."