Members of Hausa settlement, popularly known as Ama Ausa, in Imo State have narrated how a Monday night attack on the community by suspected IPOB militants was repelled by soldiers.
The residents, who are mostly from the northern part of the country, said IPOB members tried to invade the area around 9pm but were pushed back by a detachment of soldiers deployed to provide security after the recent attacks on police headquarters and custodial centre.
Eyewitnesses said the attackers wanted to attack the community located in Owerri, the state capital, before they were chased away after exchange of gunfire with the soldiers.
A trader, who does not want to be named for safety reasons, said the suspected IPOB members drove to the area in a Toyota Sienna.
According to him, five of them, all armed with AK-47 rifles, were in the vehicle.
“When they got to the place where soldiers put a gate using tyres, one of them alighted from the vehicle and started throwing the tyres away to give access to the vehicle.
“While he was doing that, he was also shooting in the air. At that time, the soldiers who had positioned themselves far from the gate, opened fire at them.
“A gunfight ensued until the IPOB members beat a retreat,” he said.
But another resident said the attackers were more than five, adding that sound of gunshots was heard all over Owerri, during the failed attack.
No one was injured in the attack, said residents.
Dateline Nigeria gathered that after the gunmen were repelled, the soldiers called for reinforcement, following which 12 vehicles full of additional troops were dispatched to protect the Hausa quarters.
“The presence of more soldiers gave us the courage to manage to sleep,” the trader said.
“But we are living in real fear and many of our people are fleeing back to the North. Nobody can tell what will happen the next minute. My family is equally set to leave today,” he added.
It was gathered that since the attack on meat sellers in Orlu part of the state that led to the killing of the son of the Sarkin Hausawa of Orlu alongside others, people have been fleeing back to the North.
“We are here for business and because there is no peace, our business is affected so we have to leave,” a community elder in Ama Hausa told Dateline Nigeria.
Imo State has recently seen a spike in attacks linked to members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The group has been active in the South-East and the South-South, targeting security forces and government facilities.
Also yesterday, suspected IPOB members attacked Okigwe South Police Area Command headquarters, killing six officers.
On Sunday, four soldiers were killed by gunmen believed to be members of the group in Rivers State.
Earlier today, a Federal High Court complex in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State Capital, was torched by suspected IPOB militants who threw petrol bombs at it.
Soldiers and other security forces who have been on the trail of members of the group, on Saturday, announced the killing of the deputy commander of IPOB’s militant wing, Ikonso Umuokwe, alongside six other members during an encounter at his country home.