Gunmen attacked an American convoy in southeastern Nigeria on Tuesday, killing four non-Americans while kidnapping three others, identical official sources said on Tuesday evening.
The attack took place in an area witnessing an escalation of attacks attributed by the authorities to separatists in recent years, usually targeting police or government buildings.
“There were no US citizens in the convoy,” said Nigerian police spokesman Ikinga Tuchukwu. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed this information.
Tochuko added that the gunmen “killed two officers of the Police Mobile Force and two employees of the US consulate” before setting fire to their vehicle.
Police said the attack took place at 15:30 (1430 GMT) in Ogbaru district in Anambra state on Tuesday.
Tuchoku said that the “joint security forces” were deployed at the scene, but the gunmen managed to kidnap two police officers and a driver, stressing in a statement that a “rescue operation” was underway on Tuesday evening.
John Kirby confirmed the attack at a press conference in Washington. A spokesman for the US National Security Council said, “A US convoy consisting of a number of vehicles was attacked.” “What I can tell you is that no American citizen was involved,” he added.
For its part, the US State Department confirmed that the US diplomatic staff in Nigeria is “working” with the Nigerian security services to conduct investigations.
maximum precautionary measures
A US State Department spokesperson said, “The safety of our personnel is always paramount, and we take maximum precautions when arranging movements on the ground.”
A number of separatist groups are active in this southeastern region. It has recently intensified its attacks, usually targeting police and government buildings.
The Nigerian authorities attribute these attacks to the “Movement of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra,” which it considers, along with its military wing, the “Eastern Security Network,” a terrorist group.
The Movement of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra has repeatedly denied any involvement in the violence.
The issue of secession is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, where an attempt to secede the Biafra region in 1967 led by army officers led to a civil war that lasted three years and resulted in more than a million deaths.
The leader of the Movement of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently under arrest and is expected to stand trial for treason. He was arrested abroad and then deported to Nigeria.
The violence is one of a number of security challenges facing President-elect Bola Tinubu when he takes office at the helm of Africa’s most populous country later this May.
In addition to separatist tension in the southeast of the country, the Nigerian army has been facing a jihadist insurgency in the northeast for 14 years, gangs carrying out kidnappings and killings in the northwestern and central states, as well as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
After a brief lull during the presidential and gubernatorial elections in February and March, attacks have escalated in the past few weeks.
And former Anambra state governor Peter Obi, who ran and lost the presidential elections on February 25, is one of those who object to Tinubu’s victory, stressing fraud.
The Electoral Commission admitted that there were “gaps” during the voting, but rejected accusations that the vote was neither free nor fair.