There was panic in Imo State on Friday and Saturday as gunmen murdered seven suya sellers.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the traders were killed in separate shootings in Orlu and Umuaka in the Njaba Local Government Area of the state.
An eyewitness, Harisu Ishiaku, said that the suspected killers, who were dressed in military uniform and numbered more than seven, stormed the Afor Umuaka Market around 8.30pm, accosted the victims in their shops and shot them.
He said four of the victims were in the age bracket of 30 to 45 and had lived in the area for many years without any trouble or attack from any member of the community.
While suspecting those, who carried the attack to be strangers in the land, Ishiaku pointed out that before now, there had never been any problem between the traders and the Umuaka community.
According to the Imo State Coordinator of Hausa traders, Mallam Ibrahim Abdulkadir, the first incident happened on Friday as three suya (roasted meat) sellers were about to close for the day when gunmen in a Sienna car emerged from nowhere and shot at them.
He said in a similar commando style, the gunmen operating in the same vehicle shot dead four Hausa traders at Umuaka.
Abdulkadir stated that Hausa traders in Orlu now live in fear as some had relocated to Owerri.
He said, “Actually, this thing started since on April 2. I was called that three persons had been killed by some men operating in a Siena car. The victims were suya sellers and were killed just as they were closing their shop in the night.
“Just as we were about to handle the situation, yesterday (Saturday) I was called again that four persons were killed by the same people.”
Our correspondent learnt that the bodies of the victims had been taken to Owerri in preparation to burying them according to Muslim rites.