30 feared dead in Nigerian communal clash

  Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- At least 30 persons were feared dead and 20 others injured over the weekend in communal clashes which started in Ataba, a riverine community in Nigeria's southeastern Rivers State, the local press reported Wednesday.
   The dead included children and women, some of whom were allegedly raped before being killed, while many residents have been forced to flee the area to safety.
   Several houses were also destroyed as gunmen linked to a faction in a lingering chieftaincy dispute invaded the village in 16 speed boats at dawn Sunday.
   However, the police put the number of the dead at seven, with five injured and six missing, according to the reports.
   The police also said three persons had been arrested in connection with the attack.
   The press reports said the exact number of those killed might not be known because the attackers, armed mostly with AK-47 rifles, cut the stomach of their victims before dumping their bodies into the river so the bodies may not float.
   Chairman of Andoni local council, Monwan Etete, who has jurisdiction over Ataba, described the attack as "unnecessary and primitive.
"   He urged the state government to urgently constitute a high powered commission to identify those behind the Ataba crisis in order to bring them to book.
   According to Etete, the fighting is rooted in a chieftaincy crisis dating back to 1988 over a traditional stool, the "Okan Ama of Ataba," between two chiefs, Sampson Oruk and Benson Egwene.
   The crisis was said to have pitched supporters of both sides against one another.
   More than 12,000 people have been killed in recurring ethnic and sectarian violence in Nigeria since 1999, after the country returned to civilian rule following years of military rule.

18 august 2004 09:44:00




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