In October 1967, during the bloody civil war, federal troops occupied the peaceful town of Asaba, on the west bank of the Niger River. They accused the people of supporting the retreating Biafra troops and for two days they rampaged through the town, killing hundreds. The violence culminated in an unspeakably tragic event:
"On Saturday, October 7, several thousand townspeople, clad in their best white attire, came together, believing that a show of support for the Nigerian government would pacify the situation. Instead, after separating women and children from men and older boys, soldiers gathered the males in the square of Ogbe-Osowa village and turned their machine guns on them. More than 700 died, with many more gravely wounded. Most families were unable to retrieve the bodies, and the dead were buried in mass graves. Over the month of October, more than 1,000 civilians were killed, raped, and terrorized, and the town lay in ruins"