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15 feared dead, 6 missing as rival gangs clash in Rivers

A bloody clash between two rival gang (cult) groups has claimed the lives of at least 14 persons at Sime community in Tai Local Council of Rivers State.

Similarly, one person was also feared dead in Oyigbo Council following a clash between farmers and suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Scores of gun-wielding youths said to be members of a cult group had late Thursday night invaded Sime community, where they carried out a fierce bloody reprisal attack on members of a rival group.

Journalists gathered that about a fortnight ago, members of one of the rival cult groups had killed members of an entire family in circumstances still shrouded in mystery.

A source, who pleaded anonymity, claimed that Thursday night killing was in reprisal attack to avenge those killed a fortnight ago.

“They came for a reprisal attack. Some family members were wiped out about a fortnight ago in a very gruesome manner. The incident has created palpable fear in Sime ever since.

“So, it was not really a surprise when this attack that claimed the lives of persons took place. The groups involved in the clash are Deybam and Deywell,” he said.

It was gathered that after the fierce gun duel that ensued, no fewer than 14 persons were killed. The two cult groups have for a while been engaged in supremacy tussle in the area.

The incident has forced many apprehensive residents to desert Sime to neighbouring communities amid fears of a possible retaliatory attack.

The Caretaker Committee Chairman of Tai Council, Bob Uelor Nkue, confirmed the dastardly act.

He corroborated community sources which claimed that cult groups were responsible for the horrid bloodletting.

Also, Chairman of Oyigbo Council, Chisom Gbali, who confirmed the incident, said suspected farmers killed the herdsman yesterday.

He has, therefore, called on security agencies to improve security in the area, following rumours that the herdsmen were planning a reprisal attack on the local farmers.

Unknown gunmen have also raided Asarama-Toru fishing settlement in Andoni Council and abducted six persons, resulting in the death of scores.

Some residents who fled the community are yet to be accounted for.

The Community Development Committee Chairman, Jephtha Blessing, said two speedboats loaded with gunmen stormed the community yesterday afternoon and started shooting sporadically into the air.

He added that amid the pandemonium caused by the intense shooting, scores of men, women and children had to run into the swamp forest to avoid being caught in the gunfire. Some were said to have jumped into the sea to escape being killed by the intruders.

Blessing explained that after ransacking the fishing settlement, the gunmen, whose mission remained unknown, abducted six persons and took them to an unknown destination.

As at press time, he said scores of persons who either ran into the forest or jumped into sea could not be accounted for, fuelling concerns that they may have drowned in the swamp or sea.

“We are calling on the Rivers State Governor, even the Andoni Council chairman to come to our aid. This is not the first time gunmen are invading our community.

“We have written to the Area Commander in Bori and the Caretaker Committee chairman of Andoni for help. We cannot account for our men, women and children after this attack,” he lamented.

Efforts to reach to the state Command Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, were fruitless.

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