Owerri - At least 15 businessmen in northern Nigerian were killed on Monday during protests by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), reports BBC.
The businessmen were said to have been killed in Onitsha, a commercial city in the eastern part of the country when security officials clashed with protesting members of the two groups.
The bloodbath also led to the killing of 38 other people, mostly members of the two groups.
The groups were fighting for the sovereignty of the Biafra nation.
They also demanded for the release of the Director of Radio Biafra and leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
Monday's protest was to mark the anniversary of the 1967 declaration of the Republic of Biafra.
AbdulHamid Mohammed, a leading business representative in the town, confirmed the killing of the 15 businessmen.
The killing is believed to be a reprisal attack following the killings of Easterners by Fulani herdsmen in recent weeks.
MASSOB, however, denied any involvement in the killing of the 15.
According to Naij, MASSOB instead has accused the police of shooting and killing 30 of its members and wounding 40 others.
IPOB on its part claimed that over 200 members of the group were injured and more than 400 were arrested during the clash with the Nigerian Army and police.
The Police confirmed the deaths of 10 protesters and two police officers in the incident.
The Herald reported on Wednesday that the Nigerian army had since explained why the soldiers were forced to kill pro-Biafran activists.
Sani Usman, army’s spokesperson, said in a statement that the military shot protesters over "unwarranted attack, breach of peace and creation of wide spread panic, tension and apprehension".
Usman justified the action, adding that the security agents resorted to rules of engagement as a result of the violent attacks from the pro-Biafra supporters.
"Due to the wide spread panic, tension and apprehension that generated from the activities of the MASSOB and IPOB members, security agencies which comprised of detachment of Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, Department of State Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency were compelled to intervene in consonance with constitutional provisions of aid to civil authority where and when such occasion demands," the army’s statement read in parts.
- News 24