July 6, 1967

War begins when Nigerian Federal troops attack Biafran soldiers

Five weeks after Colonel Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra an independent state and—after failed diplomatic attempts to avoid war—the Nigeria-Biafra war began when Nigerian FMG troops attacked Biafra. They did so under the guise of “police action,” or military/security action taken against another territory without a formal declaration of war. The fact that the Nigerians attacked first also allowed the Biafrans to be on the defending side of the war, something that they highlighted and used to their advantage in media coverage of the war. Though the Nigerians made some initial advances into Biafran territory.

The initial attack by the Nigerians included two advancing columns, one of which captured the Biafran town of Nsukka on July 14 and the other which took the Biafran town of Garkem on 12 July. However, the Biafran retaliation was strong and moved rapidly across the Niger River, through Benin City, and to the town of Ore. 130 miles east of the Nigerian capital of Lagos. where they were eventually stopped on August 21.

The Biafran offensive of July 1967 and the progressive loss of territory over the course of the war. Copyright: Matthew White.
See Also:

Doron, Roy Samuel. “Forging a Nation while losing a Country: Igbo Nationalism, Ethnicity and Propaganda in the Nigerian Civil War 1968-1970.” Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011.

Falola, Toyin and Matthew Heaton. A History of Nigeria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Gould, Michael. The Biafran War: Struggle for Modern Nigeria. London: I.B. Taurus, 2013.

Sources: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/civil-war-in-nigeria; http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/asia-and-africa/african-history/republic-biafra