BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT— TWO soldiers were among four persons feared dead, yesterday, when gunmen engaged security operatives attached to Saipem in Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State in a fierce gun battle on the Agip/Saipem waterside.
Vanguard gathered that the gunmen were coming from a kidnap operation. They had allegedly attempted to abduct a top management staff of Agip.
The situation was reportedly foiled by a Police orderly attached to the target, who engaged them in a shootout.
Eyewitnesses said the Mobile Policeman sustained severe gunshot injuries and was rushed to the hospital. The kidnappers reportedly fled in a Toyota Camry car to the IwofeRiver.
They poured fuel round the vehicle, and then set it ablaze before hopping into a waiting boat. Sources around the River said 10 minutes after they left, two policemen raced to the jetty.
One source said: “If the Policemen had been here earlier, they would have caught up with the fleeing gunmen. They set their vehicle on fire before speeding off in a boat.”
Vanguard gathered that it was the fleeing gunmen that ran into a security boat on escort duty for Saipem staff. In the ensuing gun battle four persons, among whom were two soldiers, reportedly lost their lives.
When contacted for com-ment, the acting spokesman of the 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Army Barracks, Major Yusuf, said he was going to investigate and get back to this reporter.
Also, spokesman of the headquarters of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta, Col Onyema Nwanchukwu, said he had no hint of the incident, adding that he was at a ceremony.