A married couple were among 14 persons who were shot dead by unidentified gunmen, who stormed Mgbuosomini community, Rumueme clan of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State.
Four persons were also said to be critically injured as one of them, identified as Lateef, had one of his legs shattered by bullets.
Sources said the gunmen, who wore black attire came in a boat through the waterfront, went straight to makeshift stalls close to an abattoir and killed about 10 persons.
Not done with their shooting spree that began at about 3am, the gunmen reportedly moved to a building, forced themselves in and murdered five persons.
One of the victims was said to have been ordered out of his room before they poured fuel on him and set him ablaze.
It was gathered that one of the cattle kept by butchers was also shot by the trigger-happy assailants.
No reason was given for the attack.
One of the butchers at the abattoir, who identified himself simply as Sulaiman, said he and some residents of the community rushed to the abattoir when they learnt that gunmen raided the place.
“It happened at about 3am today (Monday). About 14 persons were killed, while four persons were injured. One of us (a butcher) was injured; one of his legs was shattered and he is among the four persons taken to a hospital.
“We were called at about 6pm and told that something terrible had happened at the abattoir. We came here as soon as we heard it. When we got here at about 6am, we saw 14 corpses on the ground.
“One of our cattle was also shot by the armed men and we had to slaughter it because it was still breathing when we came in,” Sulaiman said.
Another resident of the area, Friday, who spoke with our correspondent, said the gunmen jumped over the gate of a firm, Nyeche Dredging Company Limited, before gaining access to other structures on the premises.
Friday explained that the gunmen operated for over an hour before they left.
When one of our correspondents visited the place, some residents were seeing leaving the area with their personal effects.
A young man, who did not want his name mentioned, recalled that two persons had earlier been shot dead by a group of gunmen last Thursday.
About six Toyota Hilux vehicles, filled with armed policemen, were seen at strategic points in the area.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident, adding that investigation was ongoing to apprehend those behind the act.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has directed the police to fish out the perpetrators.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Emma Okah, in a statement in Port Harcourt on Monday, promised that such situation would not be accepted.
“The government will spare nothing to support security agencies to get the killers, irrespective of where they are found. We will not rest until we get to the end of the case,” the statement read in part.
But the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State said the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration should be blamed for the insecurity noticed in the state.
The state APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone, said in a statement on Monday that as long as the current government remained in power, the level of insecurity would not stop.
When contacted, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, said he would react to the matter tomorrow (Tuesday).Punch