From Steve Oko , Umuahia
There is palpable tension and apprehension in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State over the abduction of travelers by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
The incident occurred Tuesday evening.
According to a local source, some strange -looking men suspected to be Fulani were sighted in the bush around Onuaku area of the LGA, and confronted by the locals.
They were said to have left the vicinity and moved towards the gully after Abia State University on the road towards Isuikwuato town.
The source said the strangers later way-laid travelers around the gully erosion site on the road.
They were said to have escaped into the bush after a confrontation with the police .
abducting about four commuters.
The source said the suspects had already abducted some commuters before engaging in a gun duel with the police.
“They finally escaped with their victims”, the source said.
When contacted, the Transition Committee Chairman of the council, Mr. Osita Igbe said it was a case of suspected kidnapping based on the briefing by the police but added that the matter was still under investigation.
He said that all the security agencies are intensifying efforts to apprehend the fleeing abductors and rescue the victims.
But a highly placed police officer from the Area who pleaded not to be mentioned confirmed the incident.
He said a police team on routine patrol ran into the scene of the crime and the suspects “suddenly opened fire ” on sighting the police van.
His words :”Our men were on patrol when they ran into a car that was stucked in the sand. They also saw another tipper in front of it. And immediately they blew the siren, firing came from a particular direction and they returned fire.”
He said the hoodlums later escaped into the bush with their victims suspected to be occupants of the trapped car.
The police source said a Toyota Yaris suspected to be belonging to the victims was later recovered from the scene of the incident.
Asked about the ‘strange -looking’ men suspected to have been sighted earlier around Onuaku community, the police source confirmed they got such report.
According to him, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO in charge of the council was sent to visit the area when the report came to the police.
He said that the locals had reported that they sighted some strange fellows in military camouflage and decided to raise the alarm.
Asked if the police were able to establish the identity of the ‘strange fellows’ or confirm from the military if it deployed some personnel to the area for any operation , the source failed to give any specific answer.
“When the information came, the DPO went there and met with the Traditional Prime Minister of the community.
“They said they saw some men in military camouflage but I don’t know who they saw whether it was the army or who.
” The army doesn’t tell us if they have any special operations because there are sometimes some special operations even by SARS are not disclosed to avoid leakage of information to the wrong persons.”
He however said the Police Anti-Kidnapping Squad and the Army personnel had been drafted to the area .
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna said he would make inquiries and get back to our Correspondent.
But he had not yet called back as at the time of filing this report.