By Vincent Ujumadu
SECURITY operatives in Anambra State have killed two suspected gunmen and recovered four vehicles during a battle with hoodlums at Okija in Ihiala local government area of the state.
The hoodlums had earlier killed one person and set his body ablaze at the popular Okija junction along the Onitsha-Owerri road.
The operation of the gunmen on the ever busy road forced motorists to park at the Ihiala and Ozubulu ends of the road for several hours.
The development, however, attracted the attention of the security operatives comprising the Army and the Police, who pursued the gunmen to Nkwo Okija in the heart of the town where the hoodlums engaged them in a gun battle.
As the battle lasted, many traders in the market ran into the nearby St Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Peter’s Anglican Church for safety, while others ended their businesses abruptly and headed home.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, who confirmed the incident said there was no casualty on the part of the security operatives.
The PPRO said: “Security forces comprising of the Military and Police neutralized two gunmen, recovered four automatic pump action, one cutlass, one ash coloured Lexus jeep 350 with registration number KJA- 666HE, one white Toyota hilux jeep without registration number, one white Toyota Corolla with registration number HAL- 732RF, one sliver coloured Highlander jeep without registration number and four motorcycles without registration numbers.
“The operation followed a distress call at about 9:30am along Onitsha/Owerri expressway junction leading to Nkwo Okija Market , where some hoodlums blocked the road and were robbing/extorting motorists. “The joint forces responded swiftly and engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel, neutralized one of the armed men, while others escaped the scene with bullet wounds.
“Later, police operatives at about 3:30pm, while on clearance operation, sighted another criminal gang at Nkwo Market, Okija, harassing sellers/buyers and residents in the area.
“The operatives engaged the armed men in a gun duel. One of the suspects was neutralized and two automatic pump action and one machete recovered, while others fled the scene.
“There was no casualty on part of the operatives and the situation has been brought under control. The operation is still ongoing to apprehend the other fleeing gang members”.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner Of Police, Echeng Echeng has charged the operatives to sustain the tempo against the criminal elements in the state and ordered patrol teams to intensify and improve operational positioning to be able to respond to distress calls.