Dozens killed as violence erupts in Cross River communities

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A violence that broke out in four communities in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State has left dozens killed and many more injured.

Hundreds of women and children have also been displaced by the violence which broke out on Monday in Urugbam, Egbor, Ipene, and Abanwan, four of the 10 communities that make up Erei clan, which predominantly occupies the southwestern tip of Cross River near the border with Abia State.

An indigene traced the violence to the sale of a parcel of land, used to cultivate palm fruits since 1973. The land reportedly belonged to Urugbam and Egbor communities, but was leased out by the Egbor community to African Stone Works Ltd., allegedly without the consent of the Urugbam and other communities that have been a part of the cultivation for over 45 years.

Pictures of severed bodies said to be from the violence were sent by persons associated with the communities on Tuesday morning. They accused security agencies of not immediately responding to the violence, which they said was still ongoing as of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The 14 Brigade Nigerian Army is located a few minutes away across the Abia State border in Ohafia, and residents said soldiers there must have heard as heavy gunshots were ringing out amongst Erei people.

The Cross River police commissioner, Hafiz Inuwa, revealed that a deadly clash broke out in the communities, but said officers have been deployed to quell it.

“We have sent our men from divisions and area commands to the communities,” Mr Inuwa said by telephone Tuesday morning.

The police chief said he was yet to have a full report on casualty figures because he had been in Calabar, the state capital, but insisted that the crisis has been contained and no report of escalation from his officers on ground.

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