By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
Seven persons among them two soldiers were reportedly killed today (Tuesday) at Okolobiri in the outskirts of Yenagoa the Bayelsa State following a violent clash between men of the Joint Taskforce (JTF) and suspected Egbesu cultists.
But the JTF authorities denied the claim that it lost two men saying they only sustained injuries in the skirmish.
Though the number of persons killed was initial put at two when news of the violent clash filtered into Yenagoa, five bodies were later moved from the battlefield to state police command where they were rejected and later transferred to the state CID.
The incident, which occurred at about 3pm has left the community deserted with the home of the alleged leader of the cult razed down.
It was gathered that troubled started when men of the Joint Task Force stormed the community to flush out the cultists based on complaints about their activities.
The community it was learnt had for long not been comfortable with the alleged leader of the cult group, said to have migrated from Aleibiri in Ekeremor local government area of the state to settle in their midst.
The cultists were said to have resisted the soldiers leading to the violent skirmish.
In the ensuing fracas, seven lives were reportedly lost, among them two soldiers with the house of the alleged cult leader which also doubled as his shrine razed down.
Residents were forced to scamper for safety while shop owners hurriedly shut down their businesses for fear of being hit by flying bullets.
Contacted, the JTF Spokesman, Lt Col Timothy Antigha confirmed the incident but dismissed the claim that two soldiers lost their lives.
His words: â€œAt about 3pm today (Tuesday), JTF troops responding to a serious breach of security in Okolobiri were ambushed an attacked by cultists. In the ensuing fracas, two JTF soldiers sustained gun shot and machete wounds.
â€œHowever the soldiers have responded professionally and the situation is under control. I can not confirm if there is any casualty at the moment.â€