By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Irked by the spate of recent attacks on security operatives, vehicles and a station in Essien Udim Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State by gunmen, a combined military operation has commenced to flush out criminal elements in the area.
Essien Udim which is the local government area of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been under siege for sometime now by criminal elements suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Last week, three police officers including a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) were allegedly killed in a reprisal attack by the gunmen while four policemen were declared missing. Military vehicles were also set ablaze by the hoodlums.
To contain the worrisome situation, the military on Tuesday morning began the bombardment of suspected enemy hideouts in the area even as sounds of gunshots and heavy artillery were heard.
Drones and helicopters were also deployed as they flew at low levels to ensure proper surveillance of the area.
The military had on Monday asked residents to vacate areas suspected to be used as camps by the criminals.
Staff and students of the Federal Polytechnic Ukana in Essien Udim located few metres from Akpabio’s residence were forced out of the school campus. The Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic in Ikot Ekpene was also shut.
Although the army is yet issu a statement on its operation but area has been deserted as the military has taken over to flush out the criminal elements.
The general security situation in Akwa Ibom state was very peaceful and calm before these miscreants started two weeks ago attacking and killing the security operatives seen in the area..
An indigene of area who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “They attacked so many security agencies and carted away some weapons and this gave them the courage to continue with their nefarious activities. In the light of this the army commander and commanders of other security agencies decided that the criminals must be brought down”.
At the time of filing this report, there was no statement whether any arrest had been made.