US convoy ambushed in Nigeria, 4 killed
Gunmen in south-eastern Nigeria have attacked a US convoy, killing four people, local police say.
They say two of the victims of Tuesday’s attack in the Anambra state were US consulate employees, while the other two were police officers.
The attackers kidnapped three other people, and set their vehicle on fire.
Washington says no US citizens were in the convoy, which was travelling in the state plagued by violence and a separatist insurgency.
Nigerian police say the attack happened on the Atani-Osamale road in Ogbaru region.
Police spokesperson, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Ikenga Tochukwu, says security forces were currently carrying out a rescue and recovery operation.
In a statement to the BBC, the US confirmed that “there was an incident on May16 in Anambra state”, adding that Washington was working with Nigerian security services to investigate the attack.
“The security of our personnel is always paramount, and we take extensive precautions when organising trips to the field,” the US state department said.
The Nigerian authorities often blame violent attacks in the region on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, which is fighting for a breakaway state in the south-east of the country.
Anambra and other parts of the south-east have seen a sharp rise in attacks on security forces since IPOB launched an armed wing in December 2020. The group has so far made no public comments on the issue.
A spate of gruesome killings, kidnappings and extortion rackets has left residents of south-eastern Nigeria living in fear. An armed group is fighting for the region’s independence but the line between its campaign and criminality has become increasingly blurred.
The unrest has forced people to flee villages where they led a peaceful life until just a few years ago.
“My uncle ran away from the village because these people asked him to give them money to buy guns and bullets. Our villages are empty because they are the law now,” said a man who we will call Chike Anyikwa to protect him from reprisals. —BBC