Tragedy struck on Monday, New Year’s Day, in Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State, when unidentified gunmen shot and killed 17 persons who were returning from a New Year church service.
ThisDay gathered that about 26 persons were shot in the attack, 14 persons died on the spot, while 12 injured victims were rushed to hospitals in the city.
Of the 12 injured victims, three were said to have died in the hospital.
There were, however, conflicting casualty figures. While some sources said 14 persons were killed, another said 15 were killed, while others claimed 21 persons lost their lives in the incident.
It was further gathered that the gunmen had operated at two different locations – Kirigani and Oboh axis of Aligwu community in Omoku, in a coordinated attack.
The suspected killers, according to eyewitness reports, opened fire on people who were reportedly returning from different churches around 00:20am after the New Year service and killed the victims.
The Rivers State Police Command described the incident as unfortunate, adding that the culprits will be apprehended and prosecuted.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni (DSP), said police were aware of the incident, but could not ascertain the number of casualties to journalists at the time of filing this report.
Omoni said: “I can confirm the incident but at the moment, we cannot confirm the number of casualties. The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations and other tactical heads have been mobilised there to restore peace.
“The Commissioner of Police (Zaki Ahmed) has launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted. When the DCP and the teams there conclude, we will know the total number of people involved.”