By Abiodun OBA
Hideouts of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its Eastern Security Network (ESN) branches in two council areas in Imo have been successfully cleared.
The clearance operations, which took place simultaneously on Thursday, were carried out on the Ihioma-Ihittenansa communities in Orsu Local Government Area and the Okigwe-Umulolo communities in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo by Troops of Joint Task Force South-East Operation, code-named ‘Operation UDO KA II’.
Lt.-Col. Jonah Unuakhalu, acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, for the Joint Task Force Operation UDO KA II, disclosed in a statement released on Friday.
According to Unuakhalu, the clearance operations were targeted at finding and eliminating possible camps of fleeing IPOB/ESN terrorists who are killing, maiming, and extorting innocent South-East civilians in the name of agitation.
He claims that one of the forces’ trucks was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during the simultaneous clearance operations at Umulolo, but no casualties were reported.
“Troops also came into contact with the terrorists, who fled into the nearby bushes with gunshot wounds due to superior fire power.
“Two suspects were arrested, and items recovered at Umulolo included two locally-made guns, ammunition, one PKT machine gun barrel, one big locally-made Rocket Propelled Launcher (Ogbunigwe), and IEDs making materials.
“Others included three CCTV cameras, two laptops and a charger, eight mobile phones, three boots, camouflage shorts, two motorcycles, and a beret. Furthermore, three shrines used by the terrorists for fortification were destroyed.”
The army spokesman said that in the clearance operations/fighting patrols along Road Ihioma-Ihittenansa in Orsu LGA; the troops also encountered IEDs, made close contact, and engaged in gun duels with some IPOB/ESN terrorists around Eketutu Market.
“The terrorists fled into the adjourning forests of Lilu and Mother Valleys with gunshot wounds on motorcycles.
“Troops also recovered two CCTV cameras carefully concealed at the highest point in the area and some IED-making materials.
“Troops successfully cleared the terrorists from the Eketutu market,” he said.
The army spokesman noted that Operation UDO KA II would continue combating ritual killings, cannibalism, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion of hardworking and law-abiding citizens in the South-East.
“These terrorists, mostly the condemned criminals that escaped from Owerri Jail Breaks, are low lives that are being used by a criminal abroad to unleash mayhem on all of us.
“All should join in the fight to ensure these terrorists do not determine how we live our lives.
“Law-abiding and good citizens of the South-East are enjoined to provide timely, credible, and reliable information to end the insecurity in the region (Alaigbo),” he added.