Lovina Emole, Uyo
A combined military offensive on Tuesday bombarded the hideout of criminal elements suspected to be members of Eastern Security Network in Essien Udim, the local government of former governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The military onslaught may not be unconnected to the recent attacks on security operatives especially the police in that area of the state.
A source who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the combined military offensive which began 12 midnight on Monday ended about 12 noon on Tuesday and saw the deployment of helicopter, drones, for aerial surveillance while ground troops moved to dislodge and flush out criminal elements.
Essien Udim has been under siege for over one month by hoodlums who had targeted and killed police officers, a military personnel and destroyed their facilities and establishments in the state.
The attack started in February 2021, at Ikpe Annang junction, where a police Inspector was set ablaze inside a police Van while others on duty that night fled to various directions
Later in the same month, the bandits attacked Ikot Afanga community in the same LGA and killed an Inspector of police identified as Aniekan, while a divisional police station, was also set ablaze by the hoodlums and police vans and others unserviceable vehicles destroyed.
Just last week Tuesday, three police officers including a Chief Superintendent of police, Ben Ajide were killed in a failed reprisal operation by the police, while four officers were declared missing after the operation.
The military bombardment on Tuesday was specifically targeted against criminals in Ikot Akpan forest suspected to be habouring the criminals in the local government.
The military had on Monday asked residents to vacate areas suspected to be used as camps by the criminals.
Staff and students of the Federal Polytechnic Ukana in Essien Udim located few metres from Senator Akpabio’s residence were forced out of the school campus just as the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic in Ikot Ekpene was also shut.
A lecturer in the University who pleaded anonymity confirmed the bombardment.
He said: “Well, the bombardment started in the early hours of today. I learnt they sent advance notification that the civilians should vacate the said areas before moving in this morning.
“So, the aerial bombardment and the support troops, I think it started this morning around 8 am or so. Most students from the Polytechnic could hear the fighters jets and the gunshots. So, that is just It; it was an offensive to flush out criminals within three major communities in Essien Udim LGA ,the communities are Uwa, Ikot Afanga, Ikot Akpan communities all in the local government”
Also, another resident of community who identified himself as Akpan said the bombardment was a great relief to the communities who have experienced criminals attacks especially targeted against the police in local communities.
“Yes, there had been cases of insecurity of late with the hoodlums targeting police officers and establishments and of course the military had to come in. Advanced notice was sent to the communities to vacate the areas”.
He expressed the hope that the bombardment will bring an end to series of criminals attacks in the locality.