A soldier and six civilians have been killed in a clash between a combined security team and gunmen in Ihiala local government area of Anambra State.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the casualties were recorded when the gunmen stormed Odata Primary School field, Ihiala, venue of the governorship campaign rally of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday.
A source in the area told LEADERSHIP that while one soldier was killed, about five members of the gunmen were also killed by the security team, with many others escaping with bullet wounds.
The spokesman of the state police command, PPRO, Ikenga Tochukwu, a deputy superintendent of police, DSP, and the state commissioner for information and public enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba confirmed the attack in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP.
The police spokesman stated that the unknown gunmen were successfully repelled by a combined team of soldiers and policemen, and that one AK-47 rifle, 30 rounds of ammunition and four vehicles used by the gunmen were recovered from them.
“Though I can’t confirm if there was any casualty on the side of the soldiers, I can confirm that we did not lose any police man in the incident, and, I don’t know if any other death was recorded”, the PPRO stated.
He, however, said that many members of the gang of unknown gunmen sustained gunshot wounds, and urged members of the public, especially medical facilities around the area to report any patient with gunshot wounds.
When contacted, Adinuba said that the gunmen attacked APGA members at the Odata Primary School who gathered for the party’s campaign rally to drum up support for the coming November 6 governorship poll in the state.
He said that one of the soldiers among the security team that repelled attack by the gunmen was shot while many of the gunmen sustained severe bullet wounds, and that many of them ran into a nearby hospital in the area.
Adinuba said, “A combined team of policemen and soldiers this afternoon repelled an attack by unknown gunmen at Odoata Primary School, Ihiala, where the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was scheduled to organise a campaign rally for the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
“The gunmen came on various motorcycles and in three vehicles, namely, a Toyota Lexus 350 ES with registration number EKY 765 EX, Toyota RAV4 with number JJJ 434FP and a Ford van whose number could not be ascertained at the time of this report because it caught fire during the exchange of bullets between the gunmen and security forces.
“The gunmen, unable to withstand the superior fire power of the soldiers and police officers, quickly ran into the large premises of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital which is directly opposite the campaign ground.
“They suffered serious injuries, even though they managed to shoot a gallant soldier”, according to an eye witness who did not want his name disclosed in the media for fear of his safety.
“If the gunmen had not run into the hospital which is a very delicate place to shoot any person, the security men would have gunned all of them down,” Adinuba stated.
He stated that the state governor, Chef Willie Obiano was full of praise of the police officers and soldiers who repelled the attack for their gallantry.
He stated that Professor Soludo has also lauded the security forces for their bravery.