From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
There was pandemonium at Awo Omamma Community in Oru East Council Area of Imo State on Wednesday when gunmen invaded the community market, Afor Awo Market.
The incident, which occurred about 4 pm Wednesday, left two people dead, with six sustaining varying degrees of gunshot wounds, and several others injured from a stampede as the hoodlums shot sporadically while chasing a man believed to be their gang member.
The incident forced the panic-stricken traders and residents of the adjourning villages to hurriedly close their shops.
A five-year-old boy was found dead after the attack, while a man who owned a motorcycle spare parts shop in the market, simply identified as Emeka, died late Wednesday night in a hospital where he was taken after receiving gunshots.
Traders and villagers who spoke to our correspondent attributed the invasion to the sharing of booty among the hoodlums which did not go down well amongst them.
According to them, the hoodlums numbering three had allegedly gone on a kidnapping operation early this year but one of them popularly known as Orjiwuagu, from Umuifa, Ubachima Awo Omamma, ran away with the ransom said to be in the millions of naira.
They further disclosed Orjiwagu had used part of the booty to buy a Lexus car and had commenced the building of his house and was living like a “Big Boy” within the village.
The aggrieved gang members, it was learned, had traced him to the village, and upon sighting him, he drove towards Afor Awo Market where thousands of traders were trading.
As the gang members gave chase, he was said to have run into the market for protection with bullets wounds.
According to one of the sources: ‘Based on what I witnessed, the guy being pursued and his gang went for kidnap or robbery operation. So, the operation went fine, the guy out of greed took the money paid to them as ransom and ran away.
‘Today(Wednesday), they saw him and started chasing him all the way from Ubachima Village. He came out at the Afor Market and wanted to drive to the junction. Unfortunately, they double-crossed [sic] him and started shooting.
‘He ran into the market that is when the bullets started missing direction and hitting people.
‘The most painful death that I have ever seen so far was that of that little boy of five years. He was the only son of his father,’ the source said.
When contacted, police spokesman Orlando Ikeokwu said he would confirm the incident and get back to our correspondent. But as at press time, he was yet to call back.