Residents of the Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom state left their communities following the council’s military bombardment to combat attacks on security personnel in the area by thugs suspected of being members of the Eastern Security Network.
A source who requested anonymity told our correspondent that a combined military offensive that began at midnight Monday ended around noon Tuesday and saw the deployment of helicopters and drones for aerial surveillance as the ground troops moved to dislodge and flush out criminal elements.
Recall that Essien Udim who is the LGA of Senator Godswill Akpabio has been besieged for more than a month by thugs who had targeted and killed police and soldiers and destroyed their facilities in the state.
The attack began precisely in February 2021, at the Ikpe Annang intersection, where a police inspector was set on fire inside a police van, others on duty that night fled for their safety. .
Later in months, the bandits attacked the community of Ikot Afanga in the same LGA and killed a police inspector identified as Aniekan, while a divisional police station, in the LGA, was also set on fire by the thugs. and destroyed police vans.
Last week, Tuesday, three policemen including a chief police superintendent, Ben Ajide, were killed in a failed retaliation operation, while four policemen were declared missing after the operation.
Tuesday’s military bombardment specifically targeted criminals in Ikot Akpan Forest suspected of harboring the criminals within the local government.
The army had asked residents on Monday to leave areas suspected of being used as camps by criminals.
Staff and students of the Ukana Federal Polytechnic in Essien Udim, located a few meters from Akpabio’s residence were expelled from the school campus. Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic School in Ikot Ekpene was also closed.
A university lecturer who pledged anonymity but confirmed the morning bombing said: “Well the bombing started in the wee hours of today. I learned that they had sent a prior notification that civilians had to leave those areas before moving this morning.
So the aerial bombardment and the support troops, I think it started this morning around 8 am. Most of the polytechnic students could hear the fighter jets and the gunshots. It was an offensive to flush out the criminals within three large communities of Essien Udim LGA, the communities are the Uwa, Ikot Afanga, Ikot Akpan communities all in local government, ”he said.
In addition, another resident of the community who identified himself as Akpan said the shelling was a great relief for communities who suffered specially targeted criminal attacks against police in local communities.
“Yes, there have been cases of insecurity lately, with thugs targeting police and establishments and, of course, the military had to come in. Communities have been given notice to leave the areas. “
He expressed hope that the bombing will put an end to a series of criminal attacks in the locality.
Another resident said: “We woke up this morning to a strange sound of gunshots and a military helicopter hovering around the whole village with frightening sounds. Although we heard information about no one knew it was going to be this scary. So I asked my wife and kids to stay indoors throughout the exercise.
“I don’t know how many people were arrested by the military but what I do know is that they carried out aerial surveillance of the entire LGA community.