A Joint Military Task Force in Imo Monday killed three members of a syndicate that allegedly specialised in car snatching.
The Commander, 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, Brig.-Gen. Raymond Utsaha, confirmed the incident to newsmen in Owerri.
Utsaha, however, described the deceased as members of the Eastern Security Network, said to be the military arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He said the suspects robbed a man of a mini SUV Toyota Rav4 at a filling station in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of the state.
He said they were trying to escape in the car, when the task force intercepted them at Umuonyenwere Umuowa Community, following a tip-off.
He said the suspects engaged the operatives in a gun battle, leading to the killing of two of them on the spot.
Utsaha said that other members of the gang escaped into a nearby bush with severe gunshot wounds.
Also, the Commander, 211 Quick Response, Group Commander, Idowu Ayo, said the task force engaged the suspects, “while some of them ran into the bush with bullet wounds.
“We combed the bush and brought these ones out,” Ayo said.
He charged the natives to contact the army, “when they see any decomposing bodies as they go to their farms”.
He also appealed to them to assist the army with relevant information that would help to stamp out crime from the area.
“No one says you should confront them. It is your responsibility to inform us once you see anyone coming to disrupt the peace in your community.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of the suspects, Chigozie Odemene, spoke with newsmen on his involvement in the robbery before he reportedly gave up the ghost.
Odemene, who was writhing in pain from severe gunshot injuries, said he was called on Sunday night to join the gang to enforce the IPOB sit-at-home order on Monday.
“They came to pick me up last night but I didn’t know it was for a car theft.
“My mother had warned me about going out today (Monday), following a dream she had,” Odemene said, adding that he regretted his action.
NAN reports that after the interview, the army called on cellphone to confirm to newsmen that Odemene later died from the gunshot wounds he sustained.
Items said to have been recovered from the gang included two vehicles, two locally-made pistols, five spent rounds, some illicit drugs, charms and two number plates, among others, from the suspects.