Onlookers who were stuck on Thursday in the long queue of vehicular hold up when unknown gunmen attacked two group of heavily armed special anti-terrorism team of the Nigeria Police Force in Ihiala area of Anambra state have said the attack started with 3 girls inside Toyota spyder opening fire on the unsuspecting men of the Nigeria Police Force.
The onlookers mostly passengers and bus drivers plying the Onitsha-Owerri road said men of the Nigerian Army took a wise decision to retreat at Azia road close to the Ihiala main town after the unknown gunmen; eyewitnesses said drove very slowly in a long convoy of vehicles after they attacked and overpowered the police team at a distance between Sea Horse Company and Okija river within Ihembosi community along the Onitsha-Owerri road.
Nigerian Army has said three of the unknown gunmen were killed by troops of the Operation Golden Dawn, and the attacker used one Hilux van and Hummer bus to attack the police team.
Onlookers said they were stuck in the long queue of vehicular hold up as a result of the police team interraction with drivers.
They said the police team were between 30 to 35 personnel; less than the usual 50 to 70 that occassionally stay on the road after patrolling the Ihiala and its environs.
The onlookers said they observed suddenly, a car, Toyota Spyder coming from Ihiala with three girls stopped and started firing gun at the police men but as the police team tried to respond to the attack, they observed they were already in the circle of the unknown gunmen as the unknown gunmen who the onlookers said were coming out from bush on the both side of the road started firing simultaneously.
The onlookers said the coordinated attack of the unknown gunmen destabilized the police team, forcing them to run towards residential buildings.
The onlookers said 5 persons were killed at the spot and the unknown gunmen took away two dead bodies and more than 10 police guns.
Sources close to police said, actually, the police team were not aware that they were already surrounded by the unknown gunmen, that the unknown gunmen were already among the long queue of vehicular hold up until the car coming from Ihiala started firing.
Sources close to the police insisted that only one police officer was killed, adding, other bodies were civilians hit by bullets.
Sources close to Police also said the unknown gunmen asked a driver inside Highlander Jeep to hand over the key of the vehicle but the driver refused or resisted, and the unknown gunmen immediately shot him on the head.
Residents said the unknown gunmen were seen singing, moving in long convoy of vehicles towards Ihiala Police Station or Ihiala main town, and when they saw soldiers coming, they veered off the Onitsha-Owerri road and entered Azia road and mounted road block.
Residents said the unknown gunmen in a loud voice were asking the soldiers to come towards them, but immediately the soldiers entered the Azia road, observing the road block mounted by the unknown gunmen, they retreated and returned to Ihiala main town and started patrolling streets obviously to block all roads leading to Ihiala main town and the Military formation at Ihiala-Uli border.
Carcass of the three Police Vehicles burnt by the unknown gunmen were still visible to passers-by as at on Friday along the Onitsha-Owerri road.
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