One officer was reportedly killed in a gun fight between the police and suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Akata, Oru East LGA of Imo state.
Michael Abattam, police spokesperson in Imo, confirmed the development in a statement on Friday.
Abattam said officers raided the camp of the IPOB members following an intelligence report that the group was planning to carry out an attack.
He said the head of the group and several members were killed.
The police spokesperson said three improvised explosive devices (IED, two pump-action guns, nine cartridges, one locally-made pistol and one Toyota Highlander SUV were recovered from them.
“Sequel to credible information by the command’s intelligence unit, revealing that some bandits suspected to be IPOB/ESN terror groups were seen mobilising to attack police formations and government installations in the state from their camp located at Akata in Oru East LGA of Imo State,” the statement reads.
“The Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command immediately, dispatched the command’s Special Forces and tactical teams led by the officer in charge of Operation Restore Peace, ACP EVANS E. SHEM to go and dislodged the bandits as a proactive measure to nip their planned attack in the bud.
“On approaching the terror camp, the teams were attacked by the terror groups. Save for the Armoured Personnel Carriers and sophisticated weapons used by the police the bandits were overwhelmed and they scampered for safety into the bush. The head of the group and others were neutralized during the attack”.
“On their way back unknown to police teams that the bandits have reinforced and regrouped laying ambush using palm tree logs to block the entire exit paths in the bush.
“It was at the fourth blockade that the police teams came under heavy attack while removing the fourth palm tree log used in blocking the exit path.
“The bandits threw petrol bombs and Improvised Explosives Devices (I.E.Ds) at the police vehicles. Again, the tactical teams successfully dislodged the bandits where several of them were neutralized and others fled into the bush with bullets injuries. Unfortunately, one of the police Hilux vehicles was burnt due to the petrol bombs thrown at it.
“Also three police officers sustained bullet injuries and were rushed to the hospital. One of them died on the way while the other two are in stable condition undergoing treatment in a government hospital.
Abattam said officers are “combing the bush for possible recovery of more arms and improvised explosive devices”.