The Nigerian Army says a team of security forces led by troops of the Nigerian Army have raided the operational headquarters of terrorists in Awomama Village, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State.
The terrorists were identified as members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, announced this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Yerima said the early morning raid by troops of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team and operatives of the Department of State Services was conducted on April 24.
He said the operation was sequel to a detailed intelligence report on the location of the terrorists’ operational headquarters and the movement of the overall commander, popularly known as Ikonson Commander.
According to him, the IRT and DSS teams along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have been on the trail of the terror group since the attacks on the Imo State Police Command headquarters and Imo State Correctional Centre, Owerri on April 5.
He said: “The said Ikonson Commander who was the mastermind of those attacks in addition to multiple attacks in the South-East and South-South regions, was neutralised along with six of his top commanders.
“The joint intelligence team had earlier interviewed several arrested IPOB/ESN members in connection with the April 5 attacks.
“They all confessed that Ikonson Commander was the one that mobilised men and resources as well as ordered and orchestrated the attacks on Owerri.
“They equally revealed that Ikonson was responsible for many other attacks on police stations across the two geo-political zones.”
Yerima said the intelligence team later tracked the IPOB/Eastern Security Network top leader to his exact location in Awomama village, where he and his top commanders were hibernating and plotting attacks.
He said the terrorists brought heavy volume of fire on the raiding team, who swiftly responded and overwhelmed them with superior fire power that killed Ikonson and six of his top commanders.
The Army spokesperson disclosed that a Second Lieutenant and three IRT operatives paid the supreme price in the fire fight that ensued.
He added that the four officers who fought gallantly had already been evacuated to a military facility in Owerri.
According to him, three AK 47 riffles, a Toyota Sienna van belonging to the terrorists and several other items of value, including drugs suspected to be psychotropic substances, were recovered.
Yerima said: “The items are being processed by the intelligence team to assist in further investigations and operations in the area.
“The joint security team is already dominating the general area while preparations for further operations are in top gear.
“The neutralised Ikonson Commander had in several occasions posed for photographs with the fugitive leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.”
Yerima said the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, had commended the troops, the Police IRT and DSS operatives for their determination in ensuring that the operation was a success.
He said the COAS also prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant officers who lost their lives in the operation and assured that their sacrifice would not be in vain.
According to him, the Nigerian Army along with other security agencies will sustain intelligence-based kinetic operations in the South-East and South-South until the regions are free of terrorist activities.