…As victims freed during shootout with soldiers
Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
EIGHT suspected cultists believed to be members of the Icelander cult were on Sunday allegedly killed in Obelle community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State by the military during a shootout.
Five people that were reportedly kidnapped at the weekend by the same cultists around Elele Town in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State regained their freedom.
It was gathered that the Army following the recurrent killings and other cult related activities that were threatening peace in Rivers State, on Sunday trailed the hoodlums to their new camp in Obelle.
A community source who related the development to our correspondent stated that when the military entered the community in search of the cultist who fled Ibaa community to build a new camp in Obelle that the cultists opened fire on the Army officers.
The source said that the first attack by the cultists on the Army officers made the Army to reinforce before going after the hoodlums.
It was gathered that the gallant soldiers who visited the area chased the cultist under heavy gunfire into the Obelle-Elele forest.
The post learnt that the eight suspected cultists were gunned down by the army during the shootout that lasted for about six hours.
“When the cultists loosed their grip of the community, five out of their six hostages escaped from the den,” the source said.
“The cultists had ambushed a commercial bus coming from Anambra State to Port Harcourt at the weekend and whisked away six people at gunpoint into a forest in the area, he added.
One of the victims, who escaped, Mr. Felix Uche, revealed that they were released following the hit from the military on the camp of the suspected cult gang.
Uche who spoke to our correspondent on telephone soon after he regained freedom narrated their experience in the hands of the kidnappers.
‘They tied our hands, our mouth and our legs, they also used candle stick light to burn our flesh without food and water. They forced us to call our relatives so that they will bring ransom for our release, but when they heard serious gunshots from military round the forest where we were held hostage, they decided to free us and then ran for their lives.
Uche revealed that the sixth victim was thoroughly beaten by the kidnappers after he attempted to escape earlier, adding that the victim was still ridden in pains and could not run out of the forest when the army struck.
It was learnt that the freed kidnap victims firstly, reported to the police station in Elele town before going their different ways.
The Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Captain Eli Lazarus confirmed the incident and said the raid was in continuation of its operation against cultists and criminals gangs in Rivers State.
He said: “Men of 2 Brigade Nigerian Army conducted operations to clear suspected cultists’ camps in Iba and Obelle Communities in Emuoha LGA of Rivers State.
“The operation followed a tip off on the hideout of the cultists in the communities. Five suspected cultists were killed, 2 pump action rifles and 26 phones were also recovered. Three of the suspected cultists’ camps were destroyed during the operation.”
He assured the public that the current operation against cultists and other criminals would be sustained to safeguard lives and property of all.