From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Gunmen on Friday engaged soldiers in a gun battle in Ayebode, Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State following the abduction of three passengers.
The abductees were said to have been held at Ayedun Ekiti, a town located along the same axis, after the soldiers succeeded in botching the bandits’ kidnapping attempts at Ayebode.
The incident, according to multiple sources occurred around 10:00am, leading to desertion of the Ayedun-Ilasa-Ayebode highway for several hours due to fear of attack.
An eyewitness, who was also a victim, revealed to reporters in Ado Ekiti that the soldiers engaged the bandits at two different locations; Ayebode and Ilasa and pursued them into the bush to ensure that their operations didn’t succeed.
He disclosed that three commuters coming from Ayedun-Ekiti to Ilasa were not that lucky as the gunmen picked them up after escaping from the soldiers.
The victim said those who fell victim were traveling along Ayebode-Ilasa road, when the gunmen started shooting and those who escaped the scene quickly called the nearby Army post and the personnel were said to have responded swiftly.
Two of the occupants of the vehicle that forcefully escaped were said to have been hit by bullets and sustained fractures in their legs, while their car was riddled with bullets.
The source added that the soldiers succeeded in pursuing the kidnappers into the bush, but said none was apprehended.
The incident was said to have made motorists plying the route to quickly take a detour, to prevent being enmeshed in gunfire that rented the air.
“It was sporadic shootings between Ayebode-Ilasa as the soldiers engaged the kidnappers. The soldiers acted gallantly, but the kidnappers escaped through a secondary school in Ilasa into the bush. But another gang resurfaced between Ayedun-Ilasa road and kidnapped three persons.
“A driver carrying some passengers who wanted to escape by force, had his car shot and two persons sustained fractures in their legs.
“Many people could have been kidnapped if not for the quick intervention of the soldiers, but three were taken away”, he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, ASP Sunday Abutu, confirmed the incident, saying four persons were abducted during the operation.
Abutu stated that the combined forces of the military men and the police rescued six men from the gunmen.
“The information we heard was that, four persons were abducted. But the security men responded swiftly to the situation and rescued six. We have begun investigation and we will try and ensure that the abductees are brought back safe and sound”, he said.