The victims were returning from Awo-Omamma after traditional marriage ceremony of one of their own when the Ebubeagu operatives opened fire on them.
The Department of State Services in Imo State on Tuesday said an exchange of fierce gunfire between a joint security team and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN), on Sunday resulted in the death of seven youths in the state.
This is coming amidst the outrage generated by the killings and the call for the disbandment of the South-East Ebube-Agu security outfit in Imo who massacred the 14 unarmed wedding guests in Otulu community in Oru East Council Area of the state on Sunday evening.
SaharaReporters had reported on Tuesday that Governor Hope Uzodinma also absorbed his Ebubeagu security outfit while briefing journalists after a security meeting.
He had said that operatives of the Nigeria secret police, DSS, stormed a camp and killed the gunmen.
He had also vowed to sustain the killings noting that no amount of blackmail would stop him from killing them.
SaharaReporters had reported on Monday that the victims were returning from Awo-Omamma after traditional marriage ceremony of one of their own when the Ebubeagu operatives opened fire on them.
However, in damage control efforts, the DSS in a statement made available to journalists in Owerri, Imo State capital, insisted that the victims killed on Sunday were members of ESN and not guests coming from a wedding ceremony.
The Imo DSS said, “Following the arrest of Chinonso Mmerem (aka Network), a member of IPOB militant wing, ESN, a sting operation was conducted by a joint security team on July 17, to arrest members of the criminal gang terrorising Awo-Omama and other parts of the state.
“In course of the operation, the elements opened fire on the security forces which was consequently repelled with superior firepower leading to the neutralisation of about seven (7) members of the criminal group in the hideout used as their camp.
“The elements were gathered at the above location planning for the armed enforcement of the illegal Monday sit-at-home order in Awo-Omamma and other parts of the state which informed the operation to neutralise their plan.
“At this juncture, it is pertinent to inform that the elements gathered to plan their nefarious operations and not attend a traditional marriage as being speculated by members of the outlawed group.”
While being paraded Tuesday evening Chinonso Mmerem Mmerem confessed that the victims killed on Sunday were members of ESN killed at their camp.
He said, "I led the DSS to the ESN camp at Awomama, I was caught a week ago by the security agents, on Sunday I led them to the camp where they were having meetings against Monday for the sit-at-home.
“Some of the members were shot, including “One man” squad who is our leader at Awomama. Although he did not die, he escaped with bullet wounds and his phone was retrieved by the DSS.”