Sunday, January 1, 2012

52 killed as Invaders raid Ebonyi

The Ezillo community in Ishielu Local Government area of Ebonyi State was a sea of tears and blood yesterday and residents’ preparations for the New Year  in tatters after unknown gunmen invaded the area at dawn, killing no fewer than 52 people.

Most of the victims were children aged between three and five. A police officer, described as the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) ,was also killed in the mayhem.

Governor Martin Elechi visited the community hours after the incident. He cancelled all visits in connection with the new year celebration.

The motive of the gunmen could not be immediately ascertained but eye witnesses said they arrived the community in a vehicle at about 5am.Thereafter,they divided themselves into groups.

One group operated at the Afor Ezillo market opening fire on people while another group attacked the police station. The DCO who was on his way to work was caught in the bullet rain.

An eyewitness, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said  most residents were woken by the gunshots as they ran out of their houses to seek refugee in parked buses, the gunmen opened fire on them.

“Just take a look at that car parked there, the owner and his family in a bid to escape from the gunmen were caught by the gunmen and they were  set ablaze by the invaders. Is it not unfortunate, all these little children that they killed numbering over 20? What offence did they commit? What offence did they commit to deserve this treatment,” Eze wondered.

Another eyewitness  who lost his family,  Mr. Jacob Okoro, said that when they heard the sporadic gunshots, they all ran out of their compounds. The gunmen, he said, shot at them killing all  members of his family.

He said “We were still sleeping when we heard gunshots  and people running and yelling. My family and I ran out  from the house to escape  into the bush but to our shock bullets were flying from all directions.

“It is by the grace of God  that I am alive because I can not really say how I escaped death. As I’m  talking now I have lost everything. Our compound that has about 32 persons, only 3 persons  escaped the bullets of the gunmen. When we ran out of the

house, we saw some young men and we were thinking that they were  also running for safety not knowing that they were part of the invasion.”

A man and his entire family were burnt inside their car. Hundreds of empty shells of AK47 littered the Ezillo axis of the Enugu-Abakaliki Express road yesterday while youths were busy searching for and   retrieving corpses from nearby bushes.

Our correspondent  observed that the gunmen also killed donkeys, burnt down the Afor Ezillo Market, filling stations and houses. Residents who lost their loved ones wept uncontrollably.

The  State Commissioner of Police, Mr.Adeola Adeniyi,  described the incident as regrettable and unfortunate adding that the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim has approved the deployment of mobile policemen from Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibiom State to assist in Ebonyi.

He said that no arrest had been made.He advised motorists and commuters to use alternative routes when  coming or leaving Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State Capital.

Meanwhile,  Governor  Martin Elechi has cancelled all scheduled activities associated with the New Year celebration.

Chief Elechi in a Press release issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Dr. Onyekachi Eni said that accordingly, all groups and organizations which planned to pay the Governor a celebratory visit to mark the New Year are advised to shelve such visit for now.


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