Friday, 31 May 2024 04:51

Gunmen kill four soldiers in Abia as IPOB declares sit-at-home for Biafra Day

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In a tragic incident on Thursday, at least four soldiers were killed and one seriously injured when gunmen attacked a military checkpoint in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State in Nigeria's South-east region.

The attack occurred around 8:00 a.m. at Obikabia Junction, with the assailants numbering about 15. The gunmen were reportedly enforcing a sit-at-home order declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to mark Biafra Day, an annual observance in the region.

A witness, identified only as Marvelous, recounted the scene: "Four of the soldiers were killed. The other soldier sustained serious gunshot injury. I am not sure he will survive it." Marvelous added that the attackers arrived in a black Highlander SUV, and some civilians also sustained gunshot injuries.

Video Evidence

Video clips of the attack, which have been circulating on social media platforms such as Facebook, show masked gunmen dressed in black firing sporadically at the checkpoint. PREMIUM TIMES counted over ten gunmen in the footage. The clips also depict a military patrol truck set ablaze and fear-stricken residents fleeing for safety.

In one video, an armed soldier, apparently the only survivor, is seen surveying the area after the attack. A voice in the background states, "This army man is the only surviving person here. He was the only person that ran away."

Another clip shows youths carrying a young man who had been hit by stray bullets. His blood-stained clothes indicate the severity of his injuries, and the youths are seen seeking a motorcycle to transport him to a medical facility.

Army's Response

The Nigerian Army has yet to officially comment on the incident. Efforts to reach Lieutenant Innocent Omale, spokesperson for the 14 Brigade in Ohafia, and Lieutenant Colonel Jonah Unuakhalu, spokesperson for the 82 Division, were unsuccessful. Both officers did not respond to calls and messages seeking confirmation and details of the attack.

Background

The sit-at-home order, announced by IPOB earlier this month, was intended to commemorate Biafra Day on May 30. Emma Powerful, IPOB's spokesperson, stated that the observance was to honor IPOB members who died "in the fight for freedom."

However, Simon Ekpa, a pro-Biafra agitator and leader of the IPOB faction Auto Pilot, announced a conflicting sit-at-home order spanning three days, from May 29 to 31. Ekpa, who is based in Finland, claimed the extended observance was to allow "Biafrans to vote for the Liberation of Biafra." He also called for the rescheduling of the West African Examination Council's Senior School Certificate Examination during this period in the South-east.

Security agencies in the South-east have vowed to resist the separatist-imposed sit-at-home orders. The ongoing unrest highlights the region's volatile security situation and the challenges faced by authorities in maintaining order.

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