Gunmen identified to be armed robbers have reportedly attacked a branch of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) at Bank Road, Umuahia in Abia State.
Three persons, including a police officer, were said to have been shot on Thursday during the incident.
The robbers, said to be operating in a Toyota Corolla SUV, fired multiple gun shots in the air, forcing business centres and private offices to shut down abruptly.
According to reports, there are frequent robberies in the area, apparently because of the many commercial banks there.
The police spokesperson in Abia State, Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident.
He said the attack was carried out by a three-man gang that specialises in trailing customers from commercial banks with intent to rob them.
He said no bank was attacked, and that commercial banks were not the targets.
The police spokesperson, however, said the attack was foiled by police operatives on patrol who intercepted the robbers and engaged them in a shoot-out.
“The armed robbers abandoned their operational vehicle and escaped.
“They snatched another vehicle which aided their escape,” he said.
Mr Ogbonna said no life was lost, but that three persons, including a police officer, were hit by stray bullets.
“To the glory of God, there were no fatalities, even though three people were injured, including one of our men in that team,” Mr Ogbonna said.
Aside from the officer, the other two victims have been identified as a female health officer, Apollos Theresa, and another woman, Chimuanya Joy.
The police spokesperson said the injured persons were receiving medical treatment in an undisclosed hospital in the state.
One AK-47 rifle, one machete and the abandoned vehicle used by the robbers, were among the items recovered during the operation, according to the police.