Six persons, including pregnant women, have been killed in an attack by suspected herdsmen in Mgbuji and Ebo autonomous communities in the Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Many residents in the communities were also said to have been missing while houses and motorcycles were burnt during the attack on seven farm settlements.
It was learnt that trouble started when some youths chased some herders out of their farms for allegedly allowing their cows to destroy hectares of cassava plantation.
In the ensuing struggle between the youth and the herders, some cows were said to have been killed, causing the herdsmen to launch a reprisal.
Some community leaders, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Friday, said the herdsmen invaded the settlements at about 3pm on Thursday with AK-47 rifles and shot indiscriminately.
“After soldiers left the community for about four days, the Fulani herdsmen launched the attack on Thursday. When we heard rumours that they were preparing to invade our communities, we promptly alerted the police and the military.
“What we don’t know is why all the soldiers deployed to the settlements were withdrawn. I must tell you that except one soldier from the South-South, all the soldiers deployed to the community were northern Muslims. On one of the occasions, they even opened fire on our local vigilantes who were patrolling the settlements to repel attacks by the invaders.
“So, the herders came in full force and killed many people and burnt houses and properties. More than 20 motorcycles and houses were razed, and they have promised to come back. We have reported the incident to the appropriate authorities to intervene. There is high tension here. As we speak, we have recovered bodies of six people that were killed and so many are missing,” the source added.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Information, Mr Steve Oruruo, who confirmed the incident on the phone, said, “The attack is true and the government has deployed security (agents) to the affected communities.”
However, efforts to get the reaction of the state police command were unsuccessful as its spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, did not respond to text messages sent to him.