Nigeria’s military has linked the beheading of an army couple to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group that wants a breakaway state in south-east Nigeria.
The couple were killed over the weekend while heading to Imo state for their traditional wedding.
Army spokesman, Onyema Nwachukwu, termed the killings “gruesome, barbaric and most despicable”.
He blamed the armed wing of IPOB – the Eastern Security Network – for the killings.
“The Nigerian army will ensure the perpetrators of this dastardly act unleashed on its personnel do not go unpunished,” he said in a statement.
The local Punch newspaper said the attackers made a video of the incident and circulated it online.
Chinasa Nworu, IPOB’s second in command, said the beheadings had nothing to do with the separatists. On Facebook he posted a “fake news” image, saying the story was going to be used by the army as an excuse to step up its operations against IPOB in Imo state.
IPOB was founded by Nnamdi Kanu in 2014.
It wanted a group of states in south-east Nigeria, mainly populated by people from the Igbo ethnic group, to break away and form an independent nation called Biafra.
The arrest of Nigerian separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has dealt a serious blow to his group, and could even spell the end of his movement.
The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group that wants a breakaway state in south-east Nigeria, remained a cult hero to his hundreds of thousands of followers.
For more than a decade, his fiery radio broadcasts and social media posts were thorns on the side of the Nigerian government, but his transition to an armed struggle in 2020 was seen as a step too far.
The armed wing of IPOB – the Eastern Security Network – has been accused of killing at least 60 people in recent months, most of them police officers, although the group denied the allegations.
Mr Kanu’s arrest was seen as the final act by a government determined to quell the uprising.
The images of his arrest, more than anything else, would have seriously undermined the confidence of even his staunchest supporters.