It was a horrendous moment for a detachment of soldiers attached to Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State yesterday,when an early morning raid on a hideout suspected to be occupied by Islamists led to a fierce gun battle leaving over 15 insurgents and one soldier dead.
Though unconfirmed by the military, trouble was said to have started when one Aminu Nasiru, who was arrested in Benin, Edo State, on suspicion of being an insurgent, escaped from detention to a mosque used as a hideout in Okene, where some of his gang members who allegedly attacked the Department of State Service (DSS) office in Lokoja last month, were holed up.
Getting a lead on where Nasiru was said to have taken refuge at the mosque run by a Shiite sect at Inike Idozi ward in Okene, the soldiers on raiding the hideout were attacked by the trigger-happy fundamentalists.
THISDAY gathered that the leader of the insurgents, who was armed with an AK47 rifle and other dangerous weapons, was initially caught napping.
One security source disclosed that the sect, which allegedly has links with like-minded Islamists in Iran, was said to have had a large amount of money in both foreign and local currency at the time of the raid.
The source added that the fundamentalists who later mobilised other members shortly after the raid, set ablaze the soldiers’ operational vehicles and other belongings.
The soldiers, who later called for reinforcement, set ablaze the mosque which the insurgents allegedly use as their operational base to commit all sorts of atrocities.
The source said that it was during the confrontation that 15 of the insurgents were mowed down by the troops while one soldier was killed.
Efforts to speak with the spokesperson of the Chari Maigumeri barracks in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, proved abortive while the Police Public Relations Officer PPRO), Williams Aya, said it was a military operation, adding that he was not competent to speak on it. As at press time, calm had not been restored to the area.