There was pandemonium in Etim Ekpo Local Council of Akwa Ibom State yesterday as gunmen killed a suspected soldier and three civilians in a gun battle.The gunmen, suspected to be militants, engaged a combined team of soldiers, Department of State Services (DSS) and Police officers during a raid of militants’ hideout in the council area.
However, the Commander of the JTF team in Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun, Oruk Anam, Ika and Ikot Abasi local councils who led the operation, Major Muhammed Hussaini, confirmed the incident but denied that a soldier died in the shootout. He said: “The deceased person was just an informant whom we gave a military camouflage to wear so that he can lead us to the camp”.
“They were three and we gave them military uniforms so as to lead us to their camp to capture some of the suspects, who escaped from the Ikot Ekpene Prison, but when he heard gunshots, he attempted to escape out of fear and I think bullets caught him.”
It was learnt that the incident happened in Obon Ebot village on Sunday, when the JTF stormed the community to arrest wanted militants’ leader, popularly called ‘Aboy Ikpor’ and his gang, who led the Ikot Ekpene jailbreak in which no fewer than 40 inmates escaped last month.Giving a version of the incident, a resident of Ikot Unna village, Akpan Udotim told reporters that: “They ambushed the soldier in a military fatigue, captured and killed him. They chopped off his head and later dumped his headless body at the Urua Obo Inyang market.”
Besides, three other civilians including a woman were allegedly killed in separate attacks by suspected cultists in Udianga Enem, Ikot Obioma and Uruk Ata 11 in Etim Ekpo Local Council.In a related development, the militants, said to be loyal to their deceased leader, Akaniyene Jumbo, alias ‘Iso Akpafid’, who was ambushed and killed by the military last month, also kidnapped one Ekikere Hanson Ukpekpe, a teacher at Saint Joseph Primary School, Iwukem.
Ukpekpe who hails from Ikot Obioma village, was taken by the ‘Red boys’ on his farm, after returning from his base in Ukanafun to prepare his piece of land farming season. A family source said his abductors were asking for N1million ransom.
When contacted through the telephone, the Assistant Director, Public Relations at the Two Brigade, Nigerian Army, Major Shuaib Umar, replied through text message, “I am in a meeting.”