- Category: Society
- Published on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 23:47
- Written by AFP
- Hits: 1185
"We have so far been able to count 13 burnt corpses in the fighting between the two villages in Boki (district)," Cross River state police spokesman Etim Dickson told AFP by phone.
"The fighting over land erupted on Sunday and got to a peak on Monday. Armed policemen and soldiers were drafted to the scene to restore peace."
Dozens of houses and churches were burnt down in the two villages during the fighting, he also said.
Security agents have managed to restore calm to the feuding Nsadop and Boje communities, Dickson said.
"For now, peace has been restored. They could not continue the fighting in the presence of soldiers and policemen. The pity is that the havoc has been done before we arrived at the scene," he added.
Cross River state government spokesman Patrick Ugbe said "between 13 and 15 badly burnt corpses were recovered from the fighting ... About 90 percent of the houses in Nsadop were burnt down."
A government statement said a 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew was now in force in the two villages and surrounding areas.
It added that "the scale of destruction of farm crops and property as well as the needless loss of lives in Nsadop was a shocking escalation of the dispute at hand and totally unacceptable."
"What is most disturbing is the potential for this brewing conflict to spread to the neighbouring communities," the statement said.
The land under dispute, located between the two communities, has been confiscated and an investigation was underway to determine the culprits, it said.
A state government official who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the unrest said the disputed land was "now a buffer zone".
"They have deployed troops to the affected communities," he said. "The governor has held a peace meeting with representatives of the communities with a view to achieving a lasting peace."
The two communities have been engaged in a land dispute for the last 20 years.
Cross River state is located in the Niger Delta, the country's main oil-producing region, but there was no indication oil was involved in the dispute.
"The parcel of land being disputed is farmland," said Ugbe. "It has no oil."
A resident in Calabar, the state capital, Lizzy Bassey, told AFP by phone that she lost two relatives in the fighting.
"Two of my relations were killed in the fighting which is completely senseless. The two communities speak the same language and their residents are brothers and sisters," she said.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, has been hit by unrelated unrest in a number of areas this year, including clashes between Christians and Muslims in the country's central region.
A series of recent attacks by suspected Islamists in Nigeria's north in recent months has led to troop deployments in a northern city.
Unrest linked to land disputes has broken out on a number of occasions in recent years in Nigeria, a country of 150 million people and with some 250 different ethnic groups