TEN persons, including a soldier, were yesterday killed while several others sustained varying degree of injuries as officers of the 24 Engineer Regiment in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State engaged suspected armed robbers in a duel along the Akaeze end of the Afikpo-Okigwe Expressway.
It was gathered that at least nine of the suspected robbers died in the shoot-out, while others sustained injuries.
Assistant Director of the Army Public Relations of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Lt-Col. Sagir Musa who confirmed the development, said the robbers were escaping after a failed bank robbery that took place at Ikom in Cross River State in which nine persons, including a police officer were killed before they were intercepted by soldiers on routine patrol in Ebonyi State.
He said: “At about 1830 hours on Tuesday 24 January 2012, there was a failed/foiled bank robbery attack at Ikom in Cross River State which led to the death of eight civilians and a policeman. The robbers fled towards Ebonyi State in two vehicles through Ugep-Abomigbe Road. Soldiers on routine patrol in Ebonyi State were fully informed and subsequently they intercepted the robbers along Afikpo-Amasire axis heading towards Enugu-Port-Harcourt Expressway through Okigwe, just 10 kilometres to Akaeze.”
According to Musa, “at that point, there was heavy exchange of fire which resulted in the death of one soldier while two others were wounded. Seven robbers were killed, two seriously wounded and bled to death before reaching the hospital.”
He added that six of the suspected robbers escaped with bullet wounds into the nearby bush. Among the items recovered were two RPG7 bombs, 28 empty magazines, two gas cylinders, 37 empty cases of 7.62 mm special ammunition, 22 live rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and two vehicles.
He said that immediately they received intelligence report about the robbers escaping from the failed bank robbery, troops of 24 Engineer Regiment, 82 Division Garrison and 103 Battalion were alerted to block all possible escape routes, especially the Afikpo-Okigwe road, Enugu-Abakaliki road, Abakaliki-Ogoja road and Abakaliki-Itigidi-Ugep road which made it difficult for the robbers to escape.