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Military to split Nigerian town

By BBC


The military has been called in to help split up a town in south-east Nigeria after bloody clashes between two communities, the state government says.

A curfew has been declared for three months while hundreds of families are separated and resettled.

Other attempts to prevent people from the Ezza and Ezillo communities in Ebonyi State fighting over land rights have failed, the authorities said.

At least 18 people have been killed over the last five months.

"People in the area are tired of the fighting," Ken Zegede Uhuo, Ebonyi State's information commissioner, told the BBC.

"They are willing to make sacrifices for peace."

The BBC's Abdusalam Ahmad reports there have been intermarriages between the two communities.

People will be separated according to their father's ethnicity, our correspondent says.

Limited land rights

The military has moved into the area and will enforce a curfew at the request of Governor Martin Elechi.

The Ezza are being relocated to a place called Eguachara, a few kilometres away from Ezillo town.

The clashes began when the Ezza people moved to the area in the late 1950s, state authorities said.

In Nigeria, migrant communities have limited rights to land, even years after they settle in new areas.

The latest round of killings started in May, when an argument broke out over which community controlled a local market, the local media reported.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in communal clashes in Nigeria in the last decade.

Correspondents say many are prompted by politicians who use hired thugs to stir ethnic or religious tension.