No fewer than 30 passengers were abducted by kidnappers suspected to be herdsmen along the Enugu-Port Harcourt highway between Leru junction and Ihube axis
It was gathered that the heavily armed bandits numbering over 30 abducted occupants of three buses with 18 passengers each at a location less than a kilometre from a military checkpoint.
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They reportedly set the military van on fire and wounded two soldiers before herding all occupants of three buses they abducted into the bush.
A youth leader in Umunneochi, who spoke with Vanguard, stated that the situation had heightened anxiety in the area.
He said the bandits took advantage of the evening rain on Saturday to block the highway, causing gridlock that stretched to Leru junction as commuters mistook them for policemen on the roadblock.
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According to him, some of the commuters who had alighted to verify the cause of the gridlock took to their heels when the bandits opened fire on a military van that came to save the situation.
He said some people sustained bullet wounds as motorists abandoned their vehicles and scampered for safety.
Kidnapping for ransom has become a never ending situation around the vicinity since the abduction of the Methodist Prelate Dr Samuel Uche alongside two other bishops in the same location and a ransom of N100 million was paid to free them.
Eze Chikamnayo, Abia State police commissioner, who is also the Secretary of the newly inaugurated Umunneochi Security Committee established to ensure security in the area, said the attack occurred on Saturday.
He, however, added that it occurred at the Imo State side of the expressway.
The police chief said he needed more time to confirm the casualty figure.
“It happened at the expressway between Ihube and Umunneochi. In Umunneochi proper, there has been a mass reduction in the number of such incidents but they have migrated to the border between Umunneochi and Imo State.
“But Umunneochi Security Committee worked very hard. We are putting checkpoints and we have strengthened our vigilante, and have potentially repelled them.
“I think it’s a sign of victory for us that they have left Umunneochi LGA and migrated further towards the express. They are at the boundary between Abia and Imo, precisely at Ihube,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Ogbonna did not answer when called on the telephone