Strong indications have emerged that about 18 people have been killed following gun-duels in Gokana and Khana local government area of Rivers state.
The figures of persons killed in the clash remain sketchy following the different quotes by some people in Ooni land. However, the 2nd Brigade of the Nigerian Army insisted on Wednesday that nobody died during the operations in Yeghe, Gokana LGA.
Soldiers attached to the Brigade had on Monday raided the residence of a former militant leader in Yeghe community, Solomon Ndigbara, obviously in search of the ex-warlord.
The alleged invasion and setting ablaze of the home of the former militant, who is popularly called General Osama Bin Laden, ignited a fierce shoot out between the military men and the militants, even as it was gathered that residents had deserted the community as the shooting raged and scores injured.
On Tuesday, four persons, including two soldiers were feared dead while some indigenes of the Gokana and Khana fled to neighbouring communities for safety.
However, a source in Gokana, who pleaded not to be mentioned on script, said at least 18 persons had been killed during the shootings.
“One of the victims was shot in front of RIVPOLY Secondary School and his corpse was taken away. As I speak, 18 persons have died so far as a result of the crisis. Everybody is living in fear and I pray that these shootings will come to an end,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has called on all fleeing residents of Khana and Gokana Local Government Areas to return to their homes, saying the heavy military presence in the areas was aimed at promoting security of lives and property and not to harm law-abiding people.
The governor, in a statement issued by his media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, said his administration would always enhance the security of all residents of the state, urging the people of the two local government areas to cooperate with the security agencies to maintain law and order.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Army has said its operation in Yeghe community, on Monday, was largely focused on rooting out notorious ex-militant leader, Ndigbara.