Gunmen shot at a police patrol team in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, killing one and injuring several, security and other sources have disclosed.
The attacks happened on Christmas Eve at Tombia. Our sources said the attackers also wielded machetes as they killed their victim in broad daylight, causing panic as residents ran helter-skelter.
A spokesman of the Bayelsa Police Command, Asinim Butswat, said that armed men attacked a police patrol. “The gunmen opened fire on our patrol team and injured our men.” He said three police officers were injured, but added that no policeman was killed. “One of them [officers] has been discharged, while two are receiving treatment,” said Mr. Butswat.
But a police source told our correspondent that rampaging gunmen murdered a policeman about 12 p.m. on December 25 as some police officers carried out a routine patrol near the Nigerian Law School campus in the Agudama-Epie area of the state.
The source added that the killing of the police officer and several armed robbery attacks had created panic in Agudama, Kpansia and other areas of the state.
Several residents blamed the tense atmosphere on a renewed war between members of rival cult groups called Highlanders and Icelanders respectively. A security source confirmed that the bloody conflict occurred in the afternoon along Salvation Road, Agudiama. He said guns boomed in the area during the violent confrontation, causing panic and confusion in the area.
“There were gunshots. In the end, two members of the rival cult groups, the Highlanders and the Icelanders, were found dead at the spot. They had been shot and killed,” the source said.
A traditional ruler of the Agudama-Epie, Wisdom Franklin, confirmed the shooting between policemen and unidentified gunmen, but declined further comment.
Meanwhile, the killing of the police officer has triggered a series of police raids in the area.
Residents of Kpansia, Obele and Agudama areas of the Bayelsa State capital have decried the dangerous armed attacks on their homes by suspected cultists. “We now sleep with one eye closed,” one resident said. He added: “The cult boys, armed with dangerous weapons, enter any chosen street and snatch phones, cash and other valuables from victims,” said one resident. He added, “We have notified the State Police Command but they have left the people in a helpless state.”