Bandits Block Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, Abduct Travellers, Burn Army Van


Alt: = "Bandits carrying guns"

Kidnappers suspected to be herdsmen blocked the Enugu-Port Harcourt highway between Leru junction and Ihube axis and abducted unspecified number of passengers

Reports say the gunmen, numbering about 30, abducted the entire occupants of three buses.

The bandits said to be heavily armed equally attacked a team of soldiers drafted to the scene following a distress call; set the military van ablaze, and wounded two soldiers before taking the occupants of the three passenger buses into the bush.

A youth leader in Umunneochi, who spoke with Vanguard, yesterday, said the situation had heightened fear in the area.

He said the bandits carried out the attack during the evening rain on Saturday. They blocked the highway, causing gridlock that stretched to Leru junction as commuters mistook them for policemen in a checkpoint.

According to the youth leader, some of the passengers who had alighted to verify the cause of the gridlock took to their heels when the gunmen opened fire on a military van that came to save the situation.

He said some people sustained bullet wounds as motorists abandoned their vehicles and took to their heels for safety

Commissioner for Information, Abia State, Eze Chikamnayo, who also doubles as the Secretary of Umunneochi Security Committee, recently inaugurated by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to tackle the menacing security challenges in the area, confirmed the incident took place in the area at  the weekend.

He, however, said bandits came through the Imo State side of the expressway. He asked for more time to gather more facts to be able to give accurate information on the casualty figure.

His said: ”It happened at the expressway between Ihube and Umunneochi. In Umunneochi proper, there has been a mass reduction in the number of such incidents but they have migrated to the border between Umunneochi and Imo State.

“But Umunneochi Security Committee worked very hard. We are putting checkpoints and we have strengthened our vigilante, and have potentially repelled them.

“I think it’s a sign of victory for us that they have left Umunneochi LGA and migrated further towards the express. They are at the boundary between Abia and Imo, precisely at Ihube.

Vanguard said its efforts to get a response from the Army were unsuccessful as the Army Public Relations Officer, 14 Brigade Ohafia, Lt. Innocent Omale, said he was in a conference when he was contacted.

Also contacted was the Police Public Relations Officer in charge of Abia State, Geoffrey Ogbonna, unfortunately he did not pick up calls, but the Zonal PPRO in charge of Zone 9, Israel Jack Rabin, said the zone was not yet aware of the incident as his office had not received any situation report concerning such.

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