SIX persons, including four policemen and two kidnappers, were killed on Tuesday in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State in a gun duel between the two groups.
Kidnappers and operatives of the Rives State Police Command had clashed at the Ubima-Omerelu link road following a distress call to rescue four kidnap victims.
Our correspondent gathered that following a tip off, the police stormed the area to rescue the hostages.
It was also learnt that the kidnap gang opened fire on the security operatives when they entered the area.
A resident of the area, Miss Miracle (surname withheld), told our correspondent that the police had rescued the kidnap victims before the kidnappers, who allegedly belong to a cult group terrorising the area, ambushed the security men.
Miracle, who said that four policemen and two cultists died during the shooting, noted that the development caused tension in the community.
She also stated that policemen and soldiers had taken over Ubima, Umuanwa and Omere communities in the local government in search of the hoodlums.
Miracle added that the security operatives arrested two men suspected to be relatives of some of the suspects in Omuanwa community on Wednesday.
A resident of Ubima, Mr. Madu Amadi, said that the police stormed the community in order to rescue the kidnap victims.
Amadi also confirmed the killings and the arrest of two men.
He said, “The police got information that some victims were kidnapped and kept in the bush between Ubima and Omerelu. The kidnappers attacked members of SARS who were coming to rescue the victims.
“There was an exchange of gunfire between the cultists and the policemen, which resulted in the deaths. Because of shooting, some residents of Ubima slept in the bush on Tuesday.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Omoni Nnamdi, a deputy superintendent, however, said that only two policemen lost their lives.
Omoni, who stated that two of the hoodlums sustained injuries in the crossfire, also confirmed the recovery of some ammunition.
The PPRO added, “The state police command has made a major breakthrough where its men smashed a kidnap syndicate and recovered some arms and ammunition.
“This was done following information received that kidnappers, who had earlier attacked and killed two mobile policemen attached to 48 PMF at Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government Area and made away with their rifles.”