The police in Imo State said they have killed five suspected members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra who allegedly razed houses and looted shops in Izombe, a community in Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
The police spokesperson in the state, Michael Abattam, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the gunmen invaded the community on Thursday.
Mr Abattam said the police operatives raided and dislodged the suspects from their hideout in the area on Thursday.
He said the gunmen initially engaged the operatives in a shootout but fled into a nearby bush with gunshot injuries after they were overpowered.
He said the gunmen later ambushed the officers on the road and engaged them in another shootout.
“During the exchange of gunfire, the operatives were able to subdue the hoodlums and in the process five of them were neutralized,” he said.
The police spokesperson said three police officers sustained gunshot injuries during the shootout and had been taken to the hospital for treatment.
“The hoodlums realising they have suffered a heavy defeat went for a reprisal attack in the villages, burning houses belonging to both serving and retired police officers and other security agencies,” Mr Abattam said.
“Furthermore, houses belonging to persons they suspect are informants to security agencies were equally burnt down.”
He said the community has been “fortified with enough police operatives and other security officers” to prevent a further attack in the area.
He said the police had launched an operation to track down the fleeing suspects.
Three English-made pump action rifles, 118 GPMG ammunitions, 41 AK47 live ammunition, 19 G3 ammunition, two locally made double barrel rifles and four locally made pistols, four locally made explosive devices, four Biafra caps and flags, military uniforms and police uniforms, were among the items recovered from the suspects, the police said.
The police also recovered one pair of police boots, various types of hard drugs, some police accoutrements, four live tortoises and large quantities of substance suspected to be marijuana.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Barde, commended the officers for confronting the suspects, Mr Abattam said.
Mr Barde appealed to the communities in the state to form vigilante groups to complement the efforts of the police.
The police commissioner called on hunters’ associations to collaborate with security agencies by giving them information about criminal hideouts in bushes in the state.
He urged residents of the state not to allow their areas to be used as havens for criminals.
“Report suspicious activities or any person observed treating bullet wounds to the police,” he said.
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