No fewer than six policemen and six others, including residents and bank customers, have been reported killed after some robbers stormed about five banks in Offa, in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State on Thursday.
Sources said the men, who numbered close to 30, blew up entrances into the banks with dynamite in an operation which lasted for more than one hour.
The banks allegedly affected by the raids are Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, First Bank, Union Bank and Eco Bank.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the robbers, who entered the area around 4pm, shot continuously to scare aware some residents.
They reportedly blocked roads from both Ilorin and Oshogbo and entered Owode Police Station in the metropolis.
They were said to have shot dead four policemen at the division, including some complainants.
Among those reportedly killed by the robbers were a police officer, who was expected to retire in the next few months, and a pregnant policewoman.
Our correspondents learnt that the gunmen made away with millions of naira after shattering bank buildings, terrorising workers, customers and passersby, as well as traders and other people in the vicinity.
A witness, who did not want to be identified, said he saw the corpses of six policemen.
“The ground was littered with corpses. Many people died. I counted six corpses of some policemen at the scene,” he said.
An Internet user said cars on the banks premises were also burnt.
He said, “My siblings just came back home. They were on their way back to church and were caught in the crossfire close to Zenith Bank.
“According to them, no military force confronted the robbers throughout the operation. They used dynamite and crazy guns.
“They saw four people killed. They would have been killed because after they (robbers) finished the operation, a few of them opined that they should release gunfire on them (my siblings and those close to them), but a man, who seemed to be their boss, told them they had little time left and had no option than to exit immediately. Cars were burnt; cars were stolen. They exited through Igbosun route.”
Graphic pictures of slain policemen and residents were posted by some residents on the Internet.
The Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the robbery in a telephone chat with PUNCH Metro.
He also confirmed that there were casualties, but he could not confirm the number of dead people and how much was stolen.
Okasanmi said, “It is true that there were attacks on some banks at Offa, but I cannot identify the banks now. I learnt that there were casualties, but I cannot confirm the number until I am briefed. But more policemen have been deployed in the area and they have restored calm.”