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Bloodbat in Southeast: Eight Killed, Over 32 Vehicles Burnt

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Bloodbat in Southeast: Eight Killed, Over 32 Vehicles Burnt

By Collins MBAKWE

It was a bloody Monday in the Southeast as gunmen again went on the rampage, killing and destroying properties.

Worst hit were Imo and Anambra states, where gunmen and security agents engaged in shootouts, leaving deaths in their wake.

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In Imo, the police killed six suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its military arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

The suspects were said to have attempted to burn down the Palace of Imo State Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, Dr E. C. Okeke, in the Orlu Local Government Area.

It was chaotic in Anambra as gunmen engaged security operatives in a gun duel.

Two soldiers were feared killed, but this could not be independently confirmed.

Suspected arsonists stormed the premises of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) at Ukwu Nwasike, Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area and set ablaze 32 of its vehicles.

Not done, they moved to the local government secretariat at Ogidi and set ablaze Magistrate Court and part of the secretariat building.

At least two persons enforcing the sit-at-home in Anambra were killed during a gunbattle with a police patrol team.

Police spokesman, Toochukwu Ikenga, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), confirmed the incident.

The attacks came three days after Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo visited detained IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu.

“He (Kanu) expressed sadness over what he described as ‘sacrilegious killings’ of innocent persons, kidnappings and all forms of criminalities, including the brutal enforcement of the senseless ‘sit at home’ perpetuated by sundry groups claiming to be acting for or on behalf of IPOB,” Soludo said.

But the governor’s bid to find lasting peace in the region suffered a major setback yesterday.

The Imo incident occured at about 8am when the hoodlums, in their numbers, advanced in three Hilux vans towards the palace while shooting into the air.

Police spokesman Michael Abattam, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), said the Command’s Tactical Team joined by the military mobilised to the palace.

“The hoodlums on sighting the combined team engaged them in a gun duel, throwing petrol bombs.

“The gallant team responded, positioning themselves professionally.

“In the exchange of gunfire that ensued, the hoodlums were overwhelmed due to the superior fire-power of the combined team.

“In the process, six of the hoodlums were neutralised while others escaped with various degrees of gunshot injuries.”

According to him, the operatives recovered one pump action gun, three blood-stained cutlasses and three Hilux Vehicles suspected to have been snatched from citizens.

He said calm was restored in the area and the corpses deposited in a mortuary.

The attack on the soldiers in Anambra took place at 3-3 Estate, Nkwelle Ezunaka, near Onitsha, during a gun duel, The Nation learnt.

It was gathered that the gunmen stormed the estate at midnight on Sunday where the soldiers were keeping guard.

Our correspondent gathered that the shooting, which started at about 10pm, lasted late into the night, with expended shells dropping on rooftops.

A resident, who pleaded not to be named for safety reason, told The Nation: “Gunmen attacked the military men securing us yesterday (Monday) night at housing estate gate.

“We were scared all through the night as sounds of gunshots rent the air. The gunshots lasted from 10pm – 12am.”

But, Ikenga said he was not aware of the killing of any soldier during the attack.

The arson on the EEDC occurred early yesterday.

Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, described the attack as a setback to the company.

He said: “In the early hours of Monday, at about 1.45am, the Ogidi District of EEDC was set ablaze by unidentified criminal elements, leaving about 32 utility and operational vehicles all burnt, including other assets and equipment within the premises.

“Efforts made to reach the Anambra State Fire Service at the time to come and rescue the situation did not yield any positive result, leaving members of staff who were on ground to assist in salvaging the situation helpless, as they watched the office building and other assets go down in flames.

“It later took the intervention of the Commissioner for Utilities, Anambra State, Julius Chukwuemeka, at about 9.05am to bring the Fire Service team down to the scene of the incident.

“The management of EEDC expressed shock over this ugly incident which is happening at a time the company has invested so much to improve on its operations and transform the socio-economic landscape of the area.

“This is a big loss to EEDC and a great setback to the efforts being made by the company to strengthen its network and improve the quality of service to its customers within Ogidi and Anambra State at large.

“We have already brought this development to the attention of the relevant authorities and it is expected that proper investigation will be carried out and the perpetrators of this dastardly act brought to book.”

“There is no way a developing economy as ours can progress if we continue to record this kind of incident.”

The spokesman said the assailants, having gained access into the office complex by pulling down part of the wall, attacked one of the security personnel manning the office and inflicted several machete wounds on his head, leg and arm. His colleagues ran for dear lives.

“The victim is currently receiving treatment at the hospital. We thank God that no life was lost. We condemn this unjustifiable act and pray such does not reoccur,” Ezeh said.

The Coalition of Southeast Youth leaders (COSEYL), in a statement, said those who caused the mayhem in Anambra were the enemies of Igbo

Its President General, Goodluck Ibem, urged security agent to hunt down the perpetrators.

Also yesterday in Anambra, at least two persons allegedly enforcing the sit-at-home were killed during a gun battle with a police patrol team.

Ikenga, in a statement, said the incident occured in Umunze, the headquarters of Orumba South Local Government Area.

He said trouble started when “the hoodlums” started obstructing the movement of road users.

He added that the deceased forcefully collected motorcycles and tricycles from their operators, chased the passengers away and set the machines on fire.

He said: The operatives on crime prevention patrol on Umunze Road in the early hours of Monday, May 16 engaged armed gunmen allegedly enforcing sit-at-home in Anambra.

“The operatives neutralised two of the miscreants and recovered a white Toyota Hiace Bus with no registration number.”

In Abia, some private school owners in Aba, the commercial centre, defied the sit-at-home to open for academic activities.

But banks, shops, markets and other businesses closed in Aba and Umuahia, the state capital.

In Delta, gunmen suspected to be IPOB members caused panic in parts of Asaba, the state capital, shooting sporadically at the Bonsaac area.

Unconfirmed reports said one person was hit by a bullet.

The popular Ogbogonogo market in Asaba was paralysed in the early hours as traders stayed away from their shops.

Schools within the state capital were shut; most shops did not open until noon.

Police spokesman, Bright Edafe, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), urged residents to go about their lawful business as there was no cause to fear.

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