One of the occupants of a wooden cargo boat, which was attacked along the Bonny waterways in Rivers State earlier on Thursday by an unidentified military helicopter has narrated his ordeal.
The occupant, Awwal Rufai, expressed shock over the occurrence, as he explained that the boat transported passengers and foodstuffs.
The helicopter reportedly shot at a local passenger boat travelling from Port Harcourt to Bonny in Rivers State.
An eyewitness at the Bonny-Nembe waterside, where the boat began its journey in Port Harcourt, told journalists that there were casualties.
“The local boat that just left here to Bonny, within the Treasure Island area; a chopper or I will call it a fighter helicopter, just came behind, went very low and started shooting at the wooden boat.
“From the information we got from a boat driver, there were passengers in the boat. The boat also contained foodstuffs such as garri, rice and other items. Everyone knows that is the route transporting foodstuffs to Bonny. Some people died in the boat,” the source said.
Rufai, a marine technician specialised in fixing outboard engines, said the helicopter hovered around the area three times before it opened fire on the boat.
He said five of them were in the boat, which carried foodstuffs, when the incident occurred at about 2pm on Thursday.
He identified two other occupants of the boat as Paul Jacob and Hadi Abdul, saying three of them sustained various degrees of injuries from the attack.
Recounting the incident, he said, “Normally, we leave Port Harcourt by 10am. On our way coming back, getting to Dutch Island, our engine stopped.
“We called for a new engine. A new engine was sent to us and we received it at 1pm. Between 1:30pm and 2pm, a chopper was seen around that area, it came around the first time, went back, came back again the second time and left.
“The third time it came around, it dropped a rope from the chopper and a personnel was seen coming down from the chopper into the boat and later went back up, next thing they opened fire and started shooting at us.”
When asked whether there was any loss of life, he said, “It was just me and one other person that was affected. He got shot on the knee while I got shot on my middle finger. It is a market boat and we were carrying foodstuffs such as garri, beans, rice, drinks, sugarcane.”