(AFP) – Dec 31, 2011
LAGOS — At least 50 people were killed on Saturday following clashes between two neighbouring communities in Nigeria's southeastern Ebonyi state, a government spokesman said.
"An upward of 50 people were killed when a group of people from Ezza community attacked residents of neighbouring Ezilo community over a land dispute," Onyekachi Eni told AFP by telephone.
The clashes are not linked to attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist sect, he said.
"The dispute between the two communities, which started in 2008, was believed to have been settled until the latest conflagration. A group of people from Ezza invaded Ezilo and attacked them, killing over 50 people there," he said.
The Ebonyi state governor, Martin Elechi, and the state police boss visited the scene Saturday, to see the extent of the tragedy, said Eni, spokesman to the governor.
Dozens of riot policemen have been deployed to the two communities to restore law and order, he added.
Violent and deadly communal or ethnic clashes over land are frequent in Nigeria between neighbouring communities on the one hand and between farmers and herdsmen on the other hand.
Land ownership is a sensitive issue among most Nigerians because of commercial or traditional values attached to it.
Most of the Nigerian population living in rural areas derive their means of livelihood from subsistence farming.
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