By Ovasa Ogaga, Atevure Princess,
No fewer than 8 persons were feared dead and properties worth millions destroyed yesterday, in a renewed communal crisis between Ogbe-Ijoh in Warri South-West council area and their neighbouring community, Aladja in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State as they engaged in a fierce gun battle.
ADVOCATE gathered that at about 4pm, some armed Ogbe-Ijoh youth with their new allied, a neighboring community identified as Isaba allegedly launched unprovoked attack on Aladja community with sophisticated and dangerous weapons, in what has been described as the deadliest attack since the hostility broke out between to two communities.
According to an eyewitness account, among eight persons including a boy and three women who were reportedly killed by armed militia from Ogbe-Ijoh allegedly aided by the military men drafted to quell the crisis.
Some of the Aladja leaders who spoke to our correspondent but pleaded for anonymity accused the military of opening fire on the defenseless women who filed out to protest the attack on the community by Ogbe-Ijoh people.
According to our sources, sporadic gun shots were heard in the afternoon but Aladja regrouped to push back the attackers only for soldiers, allegedly drafted in to quell the crisis opening fire on the women who were on protest resulting in the death of three women while a little boy who was hit by stray bullet also died.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a community leader in Aladja, explained that the soldiers came into Aladja on designated mission to punish and annihilate Aladja people since, according to him, ‘’It’s like the soldiers were paid and directed to kill as many Aladja people as possible’’.
However, this claim was countered by another Ogbe-Ijoh leader who does not want his name in print as President General of Ogbe-Ijoh could not be reached to comment on the crisis.
Chief Christian Whiliki, a foremost community leader in Aladja lamented the onslaught, describing the development as most unfortunate. He disclosed that from information he gathered from those directly in the theater of war, over 8 persons have been confirmed dead, making it the heaviest casualty recorded in recent time by Aladja since the protracted boundary dispute between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh communities.
He appealed to the Delta State Government to call the soldiers to order so as not to escalate the crisis beyond its present level.
The incident, ADVOCATE learnt, led to panic in Aladja communities as residents scampered for safety during the exchange of gunfire which lasted for hours and many relocating to Effurun and other adjoining Urhobo communities with their family for safety.
Leaders from both communities, when contacted on phone however were shifting blame over who started the renewed clash.
As at the time of filing this report, it’s not clear if peace have been restored at the troubled community.