Scores of persons have been reported dead on Monday during a clash between soldiers and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra in Onitsha, Anambra State.
The clash came on the heels of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the defunct Biafra republic, following the declaration of the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1966 by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
It is said that the peaceful anniversary celebration turned bloody when soldiers of the 312 Artillery Brigade confronted the IPOB members, who had blocked major streets.
An eye witness said: “most of the killings were done at Nkpor, a suburb of Onitsha, where IPOB had chosen to celebrate the Biafra Day”.
Confirming the incident, when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Alli Okechukwu, said:
“We are busy clearing the blocked roads in Onitsha, to ensure that normalcy returns. We are not counting the number of casualties at the moment.”
In a related development on Monday, policemen and some people suspected to be members of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) clashed in Asaba, Delta state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the incident occurred along Anwai Road in the city when MASSOB members were marching to demand independence for a proposed separatist Biafra.
Witnesses said two policemen were thrown into River Niger, even as another officer was stabbed to death.
A witness, Uche Okelue, said the fracas broke out after a police team threw teargas at the marchers in an effort to disperse them.
“The police used teargas on the MASSOB people as they were protesting along Anwai Road this morning, so the people got angry and attacked the policemen with knives and broken bottles.
“They caught one policeman, beat him up before stabbing him to death; it was a fierce confrontation as everyone ran in different directions,” Mr. Okelue said.
A police officer, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the protesters attacked some officers at the bridge, overpowered two of them, before throwing them into the river.
“We have been able to retrieve one of them from the river. He was brought out in an unconscious mood and rushed to the hospital, however, the second victim is still missing,” he said.