Attacks by suspected separatist fighters, dressed in military fatigues at two markets in Imo State, Southeast Nigeria have left seven traders dead.
According to a BBC Hausa report monitored on Monday, April 5, the victims were shot several times in Orlu and Umaka towns in Orlu and Njaba local government areas of the state between Friday and Saturday.
Harisu Ishiaku, an eyewitness, told BBC Hausa that the shooting first occurred on Friday, April 2, when the assailants in military fatigues stormed a popular spot in Orlu town of Orlu Local Government Area, killing three men who were selling Suya (a popular Nigerian steak).
At about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 3, the armed men, still dressed in military fatigues and riding Toyota Sienna vehicles killed four traders at Afor Umuaka market, Njaba Local government Area.
Ishiaku said the four victims, aged between 30 and 45, had lived in peace in the area for many years without any altercation with community members.
Ibrahim Abdulkadir-Dangali, the head of the Hausa traders in Imo State, who confirmed the incident to journalists on Sunday evening, said northern traders in Orlu who are now mostly Hausa, are now living in fear with reports of some fleeing to Owerri, the state capital.
“Our members have been living in fear since after the last incident in Orlu where many of our men were killed,” Abdulkadir-Dangali said.
“We don’t have any problem with the host communities, we are living in peace with them.”
“As we speak now, all our members in Orlu town have started vacating the town. Many of them are already here with us in Owerri and I believe many more are on their way.”
Dangali urged the state government and security agencies to investigate the matter and arrest the culprits.
“This has to stop. We are peace lovers who engage in lawful businesses here in Imo State,” he said, amidst growing tensions between the north and the south.
When contacted, Ikeokwu Godson Orlando, the state’s police spokesperson, said the police had opened an investigation into the matter.
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