By Ben Ugorji, Owerri
At least, two persons have been shot dead and several others injured at Afor Awo daily market, Awomamma in Oru-east local government area of Imo state as they invaded the market on Wednesday.
247ureports gathered that another six traders sustained different degrees of gunshot wounds while several others sustained injuries from stampede as the hoodlums shot sporadically while chasing a man believed to be their gang member.
This forced traders and those in the neighbourhood to scamper for safety, leaving their wares behind.
Panic-stricken traders and residents of the adjourning villages hurriedly closed their shops.
According to reports, a five- year-old boy was found dead after the attack while a man who owned a motorcycle spare parts in the market simply known as Emeka, died late Wednesday night in a hospital where he was taken after receiving gunshots.
Traders and villagers, who spoke to 247ureports said that the hoodlums, numbering three, had gone on a kidnap 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 millions.
He was said to have used part of the money to buy a Lexus car, commenced building his house and living large within the village.
His gang members traced him to the village but he drove towards Afor Awo market where thousands of traders were trading on sighting them.
He was said to have stopped at the market as his gang members gave him a chase.
But he chose to run into the market for protection after he reportedly suffered bullet wounds.
One of the sources said: “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, 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 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 spokesman of Imo Police Command, Orlando Ikeokwu, said he would get back to our correspondent when he confirmed the incident.