October 8, 1966
Easterners Stunned by Northern Atrocities
The coal city of Enugu is stunned by the nightmare experience of returning kinsmen fleeing from the vast Northern Region. The refugees arrive daily by plane, train and by open-sided wagons bearing slogans like “Sea Never Dry” and “Not by Bread Alone.” Their memories are fresh from the terror of September 29, when well over 3,000 Eastern Ibos living in the North were slain by Northern troops and civilian mobs. Hardly a family in this Region of 12 million has not been touched by the anti-Ibo killings. Nearly 400,000 Ibos have poured in from the North. At least 10,000 of them have arrived with machete and gunshot wounds, according to the Refugee Rehabilitation Commission in Enugu. Their influx has had an embittering impact. The mood here is now one of angry revenge. Others talk of secession.
Enugu General Hospital is always overcrowded, even in the best of times. Today its surgical ward is jammed with 79 of the most seriously wounded refugees. Only half are in beds. The rest lie on mattresses on the corridors. Each patient’s tale seems as horrifying as the next.
Paulina Okaro is 24 years old, born in Kaduna, the Northern Region capital, where her father was a retired Public Works Department employee. “The night of the terror a mob came to our compound,” she related. “We were dragged outside. They had machetes. They went chop, chop, chop, and my father died. My younger sister, they tied up and raped. I bled so much they put me in a pit for dead.” The next morning Miss Okaro regained consciousness, crawled out of the pit, and was taken by a passerby to the airport, from where she was flown to Enugu.
Joseph Onyeabo was on the first refugee train to pull out of Kano, where more than 600 were killed. He had been shot twice through the neck and shoulder by rampaging troops and his arms and legs bore machete slashes from follow up attacks by civilians.
When the train reached Makurdi, about 100 miles from the Eastern border, troops and civilians halted the engineer, Mr. Onyeabo reported. A gang of civilians attacked the passengers, cutting some with machetes and stripping almost everyone of their possessions and clothing, he said. (New York Times)