Airstrikes carried out by the Nigerian military have killed an undisclosed number of separatist fighters in Akwa Ibom State, South-south Nigeria, a statement by the Nigerian Army has revealed.
A statement by Mohammed Yerima, Army spokesperson, on Wednesday, April 7, said the joint military campaigns on Tuesday had killed ‘hoodlums’ who “exploited various avenues to acquire weapons to perpetrate their heinous crimes.”
“The general security situation in Akwa Ibom state has been very peaceful until recently when the security situation around Essien Udim Local Government Area of the State became tense, occasioned by activities of some hoodlums and criminal elements,” Yerima said in the statement.
“In the past few weeks, the group has attacked various security agencies which resulted in the loss of lives and carting away of weapons. The last incident led to the killing of some Policemen including a CSP.”
He, however, did not mention the number of persons killed in the operation. The operations, he said, also dislodged the groups from their enclave where they were immediately arrested.
“Normalcy has been restored in the area while the police personnel have since assumed full control and carrying out normal duties,” he added, allaying fears of the terror it had caused for the residents.
Before the military operations, residents were asked to leave the vicinity for the military to map out the criminals’ enclave, Yerima said.
The aerial operations followed a spike in coordinated attacks on police and military formations in Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state, suspected to be by members of the outlawed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Last Wednesday, March 31, three police officers, including a chief superintendent of police, Ben Ajide, were killed and four others were declared missing in a violent clash with suspected members of IPOB.
A similar attack in February killed a police inspector when the armed group intercepted and torched a police van at the Ikpe Annang junction in the local government area.
In the same month, the separatist fighters attacked the Ikot-Afanga community and killed an inspector of police identified as Aniekan, as they razed a divisional police station and police vehicles.
The separatist group has rejected accusations of any involvement.
Meanwhile, the state government had, on March 26, banned the use of motorcycles and tricycles from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. in Essien Udim and two other nearby local government areas, to checkmate criminal activities.