At least eight persons including four policemen and one soldier have been killed when gunmen suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network and security operatives clashed in Anambra State.
The incident occurred on Monday afternoon at Orsumoghu, Lilu and Azia section in Ihiala Local Government Area after the gunmen ambushed a joint team of security operatives in the area.
It was learnt that three members of the security wing of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) were also killed in the gun battle.
Many security operatives also sustained bullet injuries during the operation and were rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment.
IPOB, a pro-Biafra group, has been accused of being responsible for some of the attacks against the police in the South East, but the group has denied any involvement.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group in December 2020 launched ESN to protect the people of region from terrorists and bandits allegedly trooping in from the North.
The IPOB leader described the outfit as a replica of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun, earlier launched by the South-West governors to curb insecurity in the region.
“The sole aim and objective of this newly formed security outfit known as Eastern Security Network are to halt every criminal activity and the terrorist attack on Biafraland,” Kanu had said.
“This outfit, which is a vigilante group like the Amotekun in the South-West and the Miyetti Allah security outfit, will ensure the safety of our forests and farmland, which terrorists have converted into slaughter grounds and raping fields.”
There have been clashes between the military and ESN operatives in Orlu, Imo State, leading to the death of at least five persons.
Recently, it was also learnt that some Nigerian soldiers resigned and joined the ESN because the ESN, being funded by both international and local donors, had better welfare packages for its officers than the military.
“The Kanu ESN boys are not a bunch of rookies and untrained fellows brandishing guns. I know five guys from my hometown in Anambra State who left the Nigerian Army to join the ESN. Two of them were formerly serving in Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno State before they quit.
“We are reliably informed that there are other soldiers, particularly of the South-East extraction, who will soon leave for other various reasons and they are likely to be recruited into the fold,” a military source told SaharaReporters.