FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
WITH peace talks aban doned, mercy flights in jeopardy and thousands of children still dying, the Nigerian-Biafran tragedy is drawing to a bloody end.
Now squeezed into an area about the size of East Anglia the Biaf sans are preparing themselves for their last bitter attempt to remain independent of Lagos.
The peace talks were formally adjourned in Addis Ababa on Monday without final agreement on the question of providing relief for starving refugees in Biafra, although a statement was issued saying that there had been "undeniable progress" on a relief programme.
Biafra's leaders admitted that Nigerian Federal troops had broken into Aba. the fast remaining administrative centre in the breakaway state's diminishing territory, leaving the Biafran forces in control of only two more major towns, Umuahia and Owerri, In Lagos, the Nigerian Army reported simultaneous advances by its First Division in the north of Biafra which appear to menace Umuahia.
In a cable received by relief workers in Lisbon, the co ordinator for Caritas opera tions at Sao Tome,Fr. Anthony Byrne, an Irish priest, said Nigerian planes had been bombing hospitals and other installations at Ihiala, Ozubulu and another town for the past three days.
All three towns are on the main road on which Federal troops are advancing toward Owerri. a large Ibo tribal centre still in Biafran hands.
PATIENTS KILLED Patients were killed when Irish missionary hospitals in Biafra were strafed by Federal Nigerian aircraft. None of the missionaries , were injured.
The hospitals are at Ozubulu and lhiala, and are under the care of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and a Biafra Government institution in Nnewi.
A telegram from Fr. Byrne said: "Many patients were killed in their beds but all missionaries are safe."
Meanwhile, Major-General Henry Alexander, who cornmended the Ghanaian troops of the United Nations Congo force in 1960. is to go to Nigeria as the British Government's official member of a group of observers that the Federal Military Government has invited to report on Nigerian Army treatment of civilians in the advance into Biafra, On August 29 Lagos issued invitations to Britain, the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, Canada, Sweden, and Poland to make up a team. The British Government welcomed the proposal as a genuine attempt to assure the Ibo people that Nigeria had no intention of ill-treating the population.