A police officer, a vigilante leader and four others have been killed during a bank robbery in Issele-Uku, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
It was gathered that the incident happened on Tuesday around 5.30pm at the branch of a first generation bank beside the palace of the traditional ruler of the town.
The robbers were said to have unleashed terror on the town and were uninterrupted for almost one hour.
When our correspondent visited the robbery scene on Wednesday, residents of the area were still in panic over the incident.
An eyewitness, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said some of the robbers were stationed at strategic positions in the town, while others operated in the bank unhindered.
He said customers were held hostage inside the bank for almost an hour, while the gang members outside were shooting indiscriminately.
The eyewitness stated, “Unfortunately, four persons died in the operation while many were injured and were rushed to hospital.
“During the shooting spree, a trader identified as an indigene of Issele-Uku from Ogbeofu village was shot dead, while many others sustained bullet wounds.”
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The member representing the Aniocha North Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Mr Emeka Nwaobi, who visited the scene, lamented the recurrence of bank robbery in the community.
He said, “It is unfortunate that a police officer and a vigilante chairman died in the process. I am just coming back from where I went to visit the family of the vigilante chairman.
“The report I have is that four persons were shot dead along the street, and after the attack, the police and the Anioma Security Watch went after the robbers in the bush.
“A policeman and the leader of the vigilante were also shot dead in the process. It is very unfortunate. We had a similar incident at the same bank sometime ago.
“I was here yesterday (Tuesday) during the robbery. What happened is a challenge to all Deltans; security personnel should put things in order.”
The acting Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bright Edafe, said in a statement on Wednesday that around 4pm, heavily armed hoodlums attacked the Issele-Uku branch of the bank and the Divisional Police Headquarters.
He stated, “During the attack, dynamites were used by the hoodlums to destroy the security doors of the banking hall and they made away with an undisclosed amount of money. The police station was simultaneously attacked and riddled with bullets.
“The Commissioner of Police, Delta State, Ari Muhammed Ali, quickly mobilised patrol teams from the state police headquarters, Asaba, to Issele-Uku, led by the DC Operations, DCP Olaleye Faleye, who engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel.
“The hoodlums escaped in two vehicles but were chased and consequently abandoned their vehicles and escaped into the bush.
“However, an inspector of police, an Anioma Security Watch vigilante member and a civilian died, while one of the hoodlums was killed and their vehicles, which were full of blood, were recovered.
The PPRO said items recovered from the robbers included one AK-47 rifle with breech No. 9558 with empty magazine and painted in the police colour.
He appealed to members of the public with useful information that would aid the arrest of the hoodlums to volunteer such information to the police.