Tension as warring youths kill eight, threaten to abduct priest, pupils in Cross River

CP Cross River, Hafiz Inuwa

No fewer than eight persons have been reportedly killed following a communal clash between Uyanga and Ojor communities in the Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Although the reason for the hostility could not be ascertained as of press time, it was learnt on Thursday that the fight which started on Wednesday was already posing threats to commuters along the Uyanga end of the Calabar-Ikom Expressway as youths with guns and machetes were sighted on the road.

An eyewitness, Solomon Mbu, said he had counted six corpses since the fracas started, adding that two others were reportedly killed in the bush.

“It has been a battle since Tuesday. Houses have been burnt and the situation escalated on Wednesday. Even the policemen deployed in the area have restricted themselves to the highway. I counted six corpses,” he said.

Our correspondent learnt that a Catholic school, Stella Maris Junior Seminary, which is located in the Uyanga-end of the Uyanga/Ojor boundary, had been turned into a battle ground.

Youths from Ojor community had reportedly threatened to burn down the school, while their warring counterparts from Uyanga community said they would abduct the principal of the school, Rev. Fr. Charles Lwanga, and the over 180 pupils who were in the boarding house.

It was learnt that policemen deployed to maintain the peace between the warring communities had left the area as of the time of filing the report.

Principal of the school, Rev. Fr. Charles Lwanga, said there had been several gunshots outside the school in the last two days.

Lwanga said the warring youths had made several attempts to gain entry into the school, adding that he had been appealing to them.

The priest said parents had been making frantic moves to pick their children, but they could not access the school because Uyanga youths had blocked the road.

“We have 180 pupils who are in the boarding house and parents have not been able to pick their children. I have told the parents that their children are safe,  but the situation can change any minute.

“The boys from Ojor are the ones bent on vandalising the school because they see the school as Uyanga property. I spoke to them that the school is not a village school. I learnt that some Uyanga youths are targeting me because I am from Ojor,” he said.

When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, who promised that more policemen would be deployed in the area, did not confirm if there were casualties.Punch

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