An uncertain number of people are feared dead and property destroyed as members of Eastern Security Network set up by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) clashed with a combined team of police and soldiers in Orlu, Imo State.
Since last week, the crisis had been brewing after a clash between ESN volunteers and police resulted in deaths.
The security agencies were said to have planned a reprisal.
Witnesses report sporadic shooting and residents took cover to avoid stray bullets. The shooting was heard as far as neighbouring communities of Okporo, Akata and Umutanze.
Soldiers Invade IPOB Eastern Security Networkâs Operational Base, Kill Five, Burn Church, Others | Sahara Reporters— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) January 25, 2021
The attack by the soldiers was said to be a reprisal after members of the ESN engaged them in a shootout last Friday.
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The soldiers were said to be drawn from the 34 Artillery Brigade in Obinze.
DailyTrust reports panic in Orlu, where many residents have already fled.
Military checkpoints have been erected on roads and travellers are advised to avoid using Orlu road or even move about by night.
One witness said he counted 16 low-flying aircraft hovering over the town.
The group had released a video, which went viral last week, showing ESN volunteers boasting how they dislodged security men who attacked them and displayed the vehicles the policemen had abandoned while escaping.