A shootout between officials of Nigeria Customs Service and petrol smugglers in the Seme border area in Lagos State resulted in civilian casualties as two youngsters were hit by stray bullets.

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The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the two boys – Hunsu Taiwo, 12, and Ganjo Henry, 10 – were playing in Sokenu compound of Seme when they were hit by bullets on Friday.

The boys, however, survived after receiving treatment at the Customs clinic at Seme border.

The Customs spokesman in Seme, Hussaini Abdullahi, said the two boys were hit at the back and ankle.

Abdullahi said the incident happened during a confrontation with smugglers who were trying to smuggle petrol to the neighbouring Benin Republic.

“On Friday, a joint patrol team of the command, based on credible intelligence, went on an operation along Seme Carpenter village and identified a hideout used by some unpatriotic elements to stockpile petrol for onward smuggling to Benin Republic.

“In an effort to evacuate the item from the scene, some unscrupulous elements launched an attack. Officers were left with no option than to use their firearms in order to defend themselves.

“However, verifiable information later received indicated that two young innocent boys were injured by stray bullets,” he said.

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The Customs spokesman said the boys were rushed to Customs clinic for medical intervention.

“This gave room for prompt treatment of the patients at Customs facility and they were later discharged based on medical advice.

“On this note, the command wish to register its unreserved displeasure with this unfortunate incident,” he said.

Abdullahi added that hostility by smugglers and their accomplices would never be a distraction for the service in discharging its statutory responsibilities.