By Peter Okutu
Ebonyi State Police Command, yesterday confirmed the killing of eight persons including a three months baby in a renewed boundary dispute between two communities in Ebonyi State.
While six of the victims who were said to be from the same family were burnt to death in a bus they were travelling in, two others were also killed from bullet wounds they sustained from the attacks.
The attack happened along the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike road near the border between the two communities.
Police spokesperson in the state, Loveth Odah who confirmed the attacks said the incidents happened on Saturday.
According to her, one of the victims was a wife of a police officer serving in the state but who was on secondment to Bornu State to fight the insurgency in the North-East.
She said: “It is a longstanding dispute between Ndiagu Alike community in Ikwo Local Government Area and Enyibichiri community in Abakaliki local government area that erupted on Saturday.
“A vehicle was seen burning on the road, allegedly set ablaze by warriors from one of the communities.
“The victims were coming from Abakaliki where they attended matriculation of their son. Five of them were from the same family including a little baby and one is a neighbour who joined them. They were burnt to ashes.”
The spokesperson said the driver in sighting the gun-wielding warriors tried to turn the car but in his haste drop the car into a ditch. The gunmen opened fire on the car and some bullets punctured the fuel tank and it caught fire killing the six occupants.
“Also three other persons were also attacked and two of them were killed. One of them a woman was the wife of a police officer deployed to Bornu state”, she said.
Commissioner for Border Peace and Internal Security, Dr Kenneth Ugbala said some occupants of the other cars behind the burnt bus were also injured by stray bullets.
“They are receiving treatment at the hospital in Abakaliki”, he said
He wondered why a land dispute will spill into markets and road very far from the where the disputed land is.
He said the government has deployed more security operatives to the area to restore normalcy.
“The Deputy Governor of the state, Kelechi Igwe will soon visit the area to ascertain the level of damage”.
It was also learnt that the state Governor, David Umahi who is on working vacation outside the country has cut short his vacation and will be back to the state soon to attend to the crisis.
The communities have been having an interactable land tussle for decades. Attempts to settle the dispute by successive administrations in the state have proved abortive.
Vanguard gathered that Staff of Alex Ekwueme Federal is now afraid of plying the road leading to Ikwo following the incident.