By Ovie Okpare
There was tension on Thursday at Abasha Camp and New Era axis of Okpanam community near Asaba in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State over rumoured attacks by suspected armed herdsmen.
It was gathered residents of the areas and their neigbouring environs fled their homes over the development.
This is even as the Delta State Police Command dismissed the alleged attacks, saying that it was security operatives who visited the area for an ‘undercover operation’.
Residents alleged that there were heavy shootings in the community causing panic and fears among residents.
They, however, could not disclosed if there was any casualty from the alleged attacks.
They further alleged that the herdsmen were in town to avenge the alleged killing of four cows by unknown persons in the area.
The residents said it took the efforts of policemen and soldiers deployed to the area to restore calm.
“There was heavy shooting between 11am to around 2pm today at Abasha Camp and New Era in Okpanam by suspected herdsmen. We’re told some unknown gunmen shot four of their cows to death. It was what we heard provoked them to come and attack.
“It was when residents were running that police and soldiers came. I saw helicopters hovering the area when the incident was on. I can’t tell if anyone was attacked or killed. As we speak, the entire area has been deserted. Soldiers are still here as we speak (that’s about 6pm)”, one of the residents told NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online.
Meanwhile, the State Police Command through its spokesman, DSP Bright Edafe, told NIGER DELTA TODAY when contacted that there was “no herdsmen attack in Okpanam”, adding that the report was false.
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When, however, asked by our correspondent why helicopters, policemen and soldiers were in the area, Edafe said “our men were there for a police operation.”
Edafe, who claimed he had not received full details of the operation, confirmed that some persons were arrested during the operation.
“There is nothing like attack in Okpanam. The area is peaceful. It’s only criminal elements that should be afraid. Our men were only in Okpanam for a police operation. I can’t speak on it now”, the Delta Police spokesman added.
Since last month’s threat by a Jihadist group to attack Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the state capital, residents of Asaba and its neighbouring towns including Okpanam have become more security conscious.
The group had threatened to attack the governor if he fails to withdraw his support for the ban by Southern governors open grazing of cattle in the region.