By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Fear has gripped residents of Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom as combined military forces commenced operations to flush out criminal elements in the area.
Sources from the area said helicopters and drones were deployed by the military forces during their Aerial surveillance of Ikot Afanga and Ikot Akpan forests in the Local government area.
It was gathered that it is in the two communities that the hoodlums who claimed to be members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) established their camps.
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The military operations which started Tuesday morning, followed the recent spate of attacks and destruction of security facilities and the killing of security personnel in the area.
Essien Udim local government area, where Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio hails from has been under siege for sometime now by hoodlums who claimed to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB).
It could be recalled that last week, three Senior police officers including a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) were killed in a reprisal attack by unknown gunmen while four policemen were declared missing.
Military vehicles were also set ablaze by the hoodlums during the last attack.
According to a reliable source from the area, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, the criminal activities in the area even prompted management of Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic located in neighbouring Ikot Ekpene local government area to close down the institution temporarily last week.
An indigene of the area who simply identified himself as Mr. Essien said Drones and helicopters were deployed as they flew at low levels to ensure proper surveillance of the area.
Also a lecturer at one of the Higher Institutions in the area who didn’t want his name mentioned, simply said, “I contacted somebody from the local government area who told me that farmers fled their farms for fear of the unknown when they noticed the Airplanes hovering around the forests”
The Army Public Relations Officer, 2 Brigade Nigeria Army, Akwa Ibom state told newsmen yesterday in Uyo that they are going to issue a press release on the operation on Wednesday.