A crack team of anti-robbery police squad from the Abia Command Thursday foiled an alleged attempt to rob an old generation bank in Umuahia.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident to newsmen.
Ogbonna said that the command got the information that there was an attempt to rob a bank situated on Bank Road in the capital city.
He said that the command “immediately dispatched an anti-robbery squad to the scene and they succeeded in foiling the robbery attempt”.
Eye-witness account said that the operation was carried out by a four-member gang.
It was learnt that the armed men, on sighting the policemen, began to shoot sporadically as they made attempt to escape.
They were said to have abandoned their red-colour Corolla car, with Reg. No: LND 126 HL, and escaped in another car reportedly snatched from an unsuspecting motorist.
Narrating the incident to our reporter a cosmetics dealer on Okpara Avenue, Mr Yusuf Garba, said the operation happened at a time he was still displaying his wares between 9 am and 10 am.
Garba said that the incident caused a serious stampede residents and traders in the area, including passersby, “ran helter skelter” for their lives.
He said that at the end of the gun duel between the police and robbery suspects, three persons, including a policeman at the bank, sustained bullet wounds.
Another eyewitness and a dairy seller in the area, Mr Iheanacho Agubuche, identified one of his co-dairy seller and a passersby as those hit by stray bullets.
Agubuche said that the victims were immediately rushed to the nearby Federal Medical Centre for medical attention.
“We are praying that they would survive from the bullet wounds,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents of the capital city, who were jolted by the incident, have appealed to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu and Commissioner of Police, Janeth Agbede, to beef up security in the state.
They complained that violent crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping and banditry, had become a daily occurence in different parts of the state.