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Tensions Rise in South-East Nigeria Amidst Biafra Day Sit-at-Home Order

A‎ba, a bustling city in Abia State, South-east Nigeria, was rocked by tragedy as gunmen attacked a military checkpoint, leaving at least four soldiers dead. The attackers, numbering around 15, targeted the checkpoint at Obikabia Junction around 8 a.m. It’s believed they were enforcing a sit-at-home order declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to mark Biafra Day, a yearly event in the region.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the masked gunmen arrived in a black SUV and opened fire on the soldiers. Marvelous, one of the witnesses, said four soldiers were killed, and one was seriously injured. Video clips circulating online showed the gunmen firing shots and setting fire to a military patrol vehicle.

The Nigerian military has not officially commented on the attack. Requests for comments from army spokespersons went unanswered, indicating a lack of response to the incident.

The attack comes amidst heightened tensions due to the sit-at-home order by IPOB. The group, seeking Biafra’s secession, declared the order to honor fallen members and push for their separatist agenda. However, there were conflicting messages within the movement regarding the sit-at-home’s duration and purpose.

Simon Ekpa, a prominent Biafran agitator, extended the sit-at-home to three days, emphasizing the importance of commemorating Biafran heroes. This announcement, coupled with the violence in Aba, highlights the divisions within the region.

The economic impact of the sit-at-home was significant, with businesses closed and limited activity in markets. While some students sat for exams, many residents stayed indoors, reflecting widespread compliance with the directive.

In Owerri, the capital of Imo State, businesses remained closed, exacerbating existing challenges in a region grappling with unemployment and poverty. Despite this, some students were seen taking exams, albeit nervously, amidst the turmoil.

Residents expressed a mix of resignation and defiance towards the sit-at-home order. Some lamented its impact on daily life, while others showed solidarity with the Biafran cause. Market traders, especially those selling perishable goods, faced hardships due to the closure of businesses.

Calls for dialogue and reconciliation have grown louder, emphasizing the need for a peaceful resolution to underlying grievances. Efforts to address the root causes of the conflict are essential for lasting peace in the region.

As the situation unfolds, the tragic loss of lives in Aba serves as a reminder of the region’s fragility. Only through genuine dialogue can the South-east hope to overcome its divisions and build a future of peace and prosperity.

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