BY SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH
ABUJA—Security agents insisted last night that they came under fire from suspected terrorists in Apo, near the official residential quarters of Nigerian lawmakers, before they opened fire to repel them.
The explanation came as anger rose against the killing of no fewer than nine persons suspected to be squatters in a building said to be owned by an army General, who allegedly called in soldiers to clear the illegal occupants.
Already, many prominent Nigerians, including former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, have called for probe into the killings, which came while the murder of the popular “Apo 6” is yet to be resolved.
A security source, who spoke with Vanguard last night, painted a picture of what led to the shooting in the area, saying that various categories of arms were also recovered from the suspects.
“Our attention was drawn to the arms buried in the area and security agents backed by soldiers went to recover the arms.
“But while the operation to exhume the arms was going on, unknown persons started firing from the uncompleted story building. We don’t even know the owner.
“When the security personnel came under attack from unknown elements, the natural thing to do was to respond and that is what led to the casualties. Without the attack from unexpected quarters our men would not have responded,” the source explained.
Responding to a question, the source said that during the operation, 11 assorted weapons were recovered from the building before the security agents were fired on.
The cache of arms was made up of four Ak-47, four revolver and three locally made pistols.
Residents of Abuja were thrown into panic on Friday following sustained exchange of gunfire in the Apo neighbourhood that shattered the peace of the area, claimed lives of many and injured dozens in the process.
The spokeswoman for the Department of State Security Service, DSS, Marilyn Ogar, said the development was triggered by an attempt by suspected terrorists to stall the recovery of buried arms from a building in the area.
While Ogar claimed that 12 persons were injured in a gunfight with security agents, the police said nine persons were killed.
Ogar said: “In the early hours of today September 20, 2013, about 0030 hours a combined security team went for an operation behind the Apo legislative quarters.
“The operation was sequel to information obtained from two Boko Haram elements, Kamal Abdullahi and Mohammed Adamu, who had earlier been arrested for terrorist activities. They led the security team to uncompleted buildings where arms were purported to have been buried underground.
“No sooner had the team commenced digging for the arms, than they came under heavy gunfire attack by other Boko Haram elements within the area, which prompted immediate response from the security team.”