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7 Killed in Nigeria Clashes Between Police, Biafra Protesters

Policemen stand guard during a pro-Biafra rally in Abuja, Nigeria, Dec. 1, 2015. Biafra supporters have restarted a drive toward the establishment of a separate Biafra nation.

Police in southern Nigeria say seven people were killed late Monday in a clash between officers and protesters calling for the restoration of the former breakaway nation of Biafra.

The police chief of Delta State, Usman Bala Alkali told a reporter for VOA’s Hausa Service that the sides exchanged fire after police tried to stop the marchers from crossing a major bridge spanning the Niger River and connecting the two cities of Asaba and Onitsha.

The protesters had no permit for the activities, Alkali said, and some of them were armed.

He said a pregnant woman and two police officers were among those killed.

Pro-Biafra protesters also marched Tuesday in parts of the five southeastern states that are predominantly Igbo-speaking people.

Biafran separatists declared independence from Nigeria in May 1967 but the movement faltered after a two and a half year war with the Nigerian military.

The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign state of Biafra is one of the major groups spearheading a drive to re-establish the country.

Protests have increased since the Nnamdi Kanu, leader of a similar group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, was arrested by Nigerian authorities.

Lamido Abubakar Sokoto contributed to this report.