At least four police officers were reportedly gunned down during a robbery operation in Offa, Kwara State, on Thursday.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that about six other residents and bank customers in the town were also killed in the operation which lasted for more than an hour.
Sources in the town said the robbers blew up entrances into the banks with dynamite, before carting away money from about five banks.
A source told our correspondent that the robbers invaded the town a few minutes past 4 p.m. and shot into the air sporadically to scare away residents and passersby before the operation began.
The robbers then invaded the community police station known as Owode Police Station where some police officers and a few civilians were shot dead.
Sources said the robbers made away with huge cash after the operation.
On Thursday evening, graphic pictures of slain police officers and blood-stained residents flooded the internet.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the banks robbed include branches of Guarantee Trust Bank, Eco Bank, First Bank, Union Bank and Zenith Bank in the town.
According to an eyewitness, who identified herself as Mrs. Tijani, the thieves came in large numbers, and split themselves into teams to carry out the operations in different banks.
She added that the bandits broke into the banks by detonating dynamites.
“They used something like bomb to break into Union Bank,” she said.
Also, a student of Federal Polytechnic Offa, Dennis Ifeoluwa, explained that gunshots and heavy sounds filled the air. Business activities and vehicular movement ceased during the operation.
“I was coming from where I’m undergoing my Industrial Training when these sounds started. I had to hide myself somewhere.”
“After a while they left. Only to discover dead bodies outside. I saw someone’s intestines outside today,” he narrated.
In his reaction, the Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the command could not immediately confirm casualty figure.
He also hinted that the amount stolen by the robbers was still unknown.
Residents and banks in Offa and another nearby community, Omu-aran, have been victims of robbery attacks, especially during Yuletide periods. The rampant cases of robbery in the communities once forced banks to shut operations for a relatively long period.
But in the past year, there has been relative peace in the towns as banks operated without attacks.
A resident who identified himself simply as Ahmed said Thursday’s attack remains the deadliest in recent history.
“Offa is in serious mourning now. This is the most tragic and deadliest attack in recent years,” he said.