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Chukwudi Akasike and Sampson Itode
TWO persons were feared killed as a gang of armed men suspected to be sea pirates on Saturday attacked three passenger boats conveying an undisclosed number of people to a wedding in Degema LGA of Rivers State.
It was gathered that the gunmen had accosted their victims in Bille community in Degema along the Port Harcourt- Degema waterways.
A source said that the three boats had taken off from Port Harcourt in the morning before they were waylaid by the bandits, who also dispossessed the passengers of their valuables as well as stealing their boats.
Two boats were said to have been seized earlier by the hoodlums before a rescue boat was sent to retrieve the stranded passengers, who were dumped in the creek by their assailants.
PUNCH learnt that the hoodlums, who later laid ambush within the creeks opened fire on the rescue boat, killing two rescuers and inflicting gunshot injuries on many others.
An eyewitness, who preferred not to be mentioned told our correspondent that the sea pirates opened fire on the rescuers on sighting them.
He said, “Two of the boats that were attacked were traveling from Port Harcourt to Bille for a wedding before the boys struck and robbed them of their belongings, including the boat they had entered.
“They (gunmen) forced everyone to swim to shore while they went away with the boats. When a rescue boat was coming to help the stranded passengers, the gunmen reappeared and opened fire on the rescue boat, killing two men and injuring the others.”
The source added that the bodies of the two slain rescuers had been found, while the injured persons had been taken to the hospital for treatment.
“The rescue boat that was attacked sank as a result of several bullet holes on it. The corpses of the two persons killed had been found and taken to the mortuary.
“The injured persons had to be hospitalised and are receiving treatment as we speak, the situation is terrible I tell you.”
However, when contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, said the Command was not aware of such an incident.
Omoni said, ”I just finished speaking with the Area Commander on it, but he said no such thing happened. We are not aware of such incident.”