Suspected separatists kill five Nigerian policemen in retaliatory attack after soldiers raided their bush camp and neutralised three
At least five policemen were killed in an attack by suspected separatists in Nigeria’s southeastern Imo state, a police spokesman said on Tuesday, the latest incident in a state rife with gang and separatist violence.
Armed groups have attacked police stations and government buildings in states in Nigeria’s southeast, which authorities often blame on the proscribed separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group and its militant wing the Eastern Security Network (ESN). IPOB denies the charges.
On Monday the Nigerian Army (NA) announced that soldiers of the 82 Airborne Division carried out a raid on a separatist base in neighbouring Abia state where 3 IPOB/ESN operatives were killed and a locally manufactured multiple rocket system was recovered.
“Joint troops of 82 Division Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police have neutralized 3 combatants of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN) in a fierce encounter that ensued during a clearance operation in the early hours of Monday 18 September 2023 at Igboro Forest, between Arochukwu and Ohafia Local Government Areas of Abia state.” The army said on X.
It also confirmed that a similar raid was carried in Enugu state under Operation Udo Aka where the NA said they destroyed several separatists strongpoints after gathering intelligence and surveillance of the hideouts.
“Troops of 82 Division NA in synergy with the Nigerian Police Force, acting on credible intelligence busted IPOB/ESN hideout at Ezioha Mgbowo in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu state. The armed fighters were perfecting plans to enforce the illegal sit-at-home order in the area, when the vigilant troops swooped on them.”
The latest attack by the separatists on federal forces was confirmed by Imo police spokesman Henry Okoye who said the attack occurred at Ehime Mbano local government area of the state, but did not immediately provide details because investigations are ongoing.
Local media reported at least eight fatalities including soldiers and men of Nigeria’s Civil Defence Corps, a paramilitary agency.
Widespread insecurity has rocked Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, with armed attacks and kidnappings in the northwest, a festering Islamist insurgency in the northeast and violent sectarian and herder-farmer clashes in the central region.
IPOB has been campaigning for southeastern Nigeria, the homeland of the Igbo ethnic group, to be an independent country.
More than a million people died, mostly of starvation, during a three-year civil that began in 1967 when the region attempted to secede under the name Republic of Biafra.
Akowe with additional materials from X/Reuters/NAN