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Many Feared Dead, Communities Deserted As ESN Battles Soldiers, Herdsmen In South-South, South East (Details below)

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The Ikot Akpan community in Edien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has been deserted by natives fleeing for fear of being caught in the crossfire of reprisals after a soldier was killed by some gunmen.

Nerves became frayed on the heels of the ongoing operation by the Nigerian Army moving to dislodge men of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), an arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from parts of Akwa Ibom, where they have set up camps with flags hoisted.

Reports had it that one soldier was reportedly shot dead during an exchange of gunfire with the ESN militia even as the operational van of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) was razed.

An alleged ESN attack on Monday saw the resident of one police Inspector Aniekan at Ikot Afanga community in Essien Udim Local Government Area set on fire by the group.

Reports said Aniekan himself was killed,

According to a local resident who would not want his name in print, “Soldiers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) were drafted in to contain the hoodlums when police operatives who tried to storm their camp at Ikot Akpan Akpan community were repelled by the militia group.

“The entire community of Ikot Akpan has been deserted by the local residents who have since fled to the neighbouring Ikot Ekpene, Abak and Uyo local government areas for fear of being caught in the crossfire when the soldiers would regroup to launch counter-attacks,” Chief Effiong Inyang, a community leader in Essien Udim lamented.

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He however called on the state government to take decisive action to address the security challenge facing the local government.

Chief Inyang, who lamented that the palace of the village head was torched, recalled that, “In recent times, hoodlums have launched series of attacks, targeted at police in the local government, killing two police inspectors and razing a section of Essien Udim Divisional Police Station with several cars, tricycles and motorcycles destroyed by the inferno.

Following the killing of the Police Inspector on Monday, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Odiko Macdon, a Police Superintendent (SP), was quoted as having assured that the security situation in the troubled zone was under control following a swift action by the Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Amiengheme Andrew.

He said the CP immediately dispatched security operatives to contain the hoodlums, who were repelled before the military JTF were drafted in.

“There is an ongoing operation there as the CP has drafted our personnel to deal with the problem,” he assured.

He stressed that the remote and immediate causes of the fracas would be established as soon as investigations were concluded.

In a related development, six persons were feared dead yesterday at Adani in Uzo-Uwani Local Council of Enugu State, following a clash between armed herdsmen and Eastern Security Network (ESN).

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Trouble reportedly started when some herdsmen allegedly shot a member of Igga community in his farm and blocked sympathisers from taking the victim to the hospital.

It was gathered that the refusal to allow the wounded farmer get treated triggered rumpus that attracted members of ESN to the scene, leading to a showdown.

A source, however, said that it was amid the attempt to resuscitate the young man with bullet wound that some angry youths on motorcycles stormed the scene and started shooting at those barricading the farmer from receiving medical attention.

The ensuing fracas, The Guardian gathered, led to many residents of Adani, an agricultural community, fleeing the area to neighbouring communities in Nsukka and Igboetiti local councils.

Some residents of Adani, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that hunters and even some local vigilante had encountered some unfamiliar faces suspected to be ESN personnel in the forests in the area, who told them that they were not after law-abiding residents.

The Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, and other top security operatives in the state visited Adani yesterday for fact-finding at the scene of the incident.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Daniel Ndukwe, who accompanied the CP on the mission, confirmed the incident and promised to make details available in due course.

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