At least three members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militant wing of the IPOB separatist group, have been killed in a gun duel with security agents.

Security sources, who confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES, said the militants were killed at Lilu forest in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The forest constitutes a boundary between Anambra and Imo states.

The operation, which was necessitated by a tip off, was carried out by a joint team of the army and navy personnel. It was executed on Sunday afternoon.

Military spokespersons are yet to respond to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries for more information on the operation.

But according to the source, one of the the terrorists who engaged security forces in a gun duel was captured while three rifles were recovered at the bunker. Two vehicles and a laptop were also recovered from the militants.

The group, whose attacks had reduced significantly, suddenly resumed hostilities due to the incarceration of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

It also enforced a controversial sit-at-home order and has been violent against those against it.

Not the first time

Several IPOB militants have been killed in the past weeks following renewed face-off with security agencies.

In April, security agents raided the group’s headquarters in Owerri and arrested one of its top commander, Ikonso Commander.

Dozens of security officials have also been killed in the South-east and South-south regions of Nigeria in various attacks by the ESN on security facilities.

Between January and June, suspected ESN members killed dozens of security operatives and attacked at least 10 public buildings, including prisons and police stations.

The police said ESN fighters killed 21 police personnel in Imo State alone.

Reduced attacks

The arrest of the IPOB leader, Mr Kanu in June had thrown the separatist group into disarray, leading to a drastic reduction in violence in the south-eastern region.

There were initially frequent attacks across the region since the April 6 raid on the Owerri Correctional Centre during which 1,844 inmates were set free and the building set ablaze.

But following the re-arrest of Mr Kanu and a further clampdown on ESN members, many members of the group are believed to have gone into hiding while attacks on public buildings, especially police stations declined.

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