By George Onah
Port Harcourt—There was a fierce gun battle at about 9.55 a.m., yesterday, at Ihie Obieku, Abia State, along the Port Harcourt – Aba Expressway between a joint military/police team and some gunmen who blocked the road and were robbing and kidnapping travellers.
At the peak of the gun duel, which lasted for nearly 30 minutes unabated, the security men had to launch a personnel armoured carrier, APC, into the battle, while a reinforcement of soldiers sped to the battle ground in hilux jeeps, with the inscription “Operation Mesa”.
The combined manoeuvring of the APC and military vehicles, coupled with the dexterity of the security men with superior fire power, aided in dislodging the seemingly determined gunmen who retreated into the bush, firing sporadically as they withdrew.
Vanguard, who witnessed the scene, observed that frightened motorists abandoned their vehicles, along the road as they fled with other commuters into the bush, causing some injuries on the panic-stricken men, women and children.
Few minutes after the fighting stopped, two vehicles loaded with armed Abia State Vigilante men led a convoy of motorists that had been held up by the fighting from Aba-end of the highway and beckoned on travellers from the Port Harcourt end to continue their journey.
Of note is the emptiness of the villages and communities along the expressway which are now bereft of the inhabitants as a result of the daily robberies,kidnappings and fire fights between security men and hoodlums.
Consequent upon this, schools, hospitals or medical outposts, shops, markets and other business activities around the Isialangwa South and Osisioma council areas are non-existent. However, Vanguard noticed that three shops selling coffins and caskets were wide open.