Gunmen have killed two police officers in Nigeria’s southern Akwa Ibom state, a spokesman said, in the latest attack targeting security operatives in the region.
The incident happened on Tuesday evening at Ika district of the state when the gunmen ambushed and shot the two on their way home after work, police spokesman Odiko MacDon said in a statement. He said some gunmen on motorcycles had attempted to attack the Ika police station but were repelled.
“Unfortunately, before heading towards the station to attack it, they ambushed and killed a woman police corporal, Esther Akpan who had just closed from duty and was on her way home in company of a police special constabulary,” he said.
Macdon said a police patrol vehicle was also set ablaze by the gunmen.
Southeast Nigeria has seen a surge in deadly attacks targeting police and other security forces in the past few months. Dozens of security personnel have been killed and police stations burnt in a wave of assaults by gunmen in the region.
Over the past few weeks, the attacks appear to have spread to neighboring southern states.
On Saturday, five security officers were killed in nearby Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state. Also on Saturday, three police officers died when gunmen attacked the residence of nearby Imo state’s governor.
No group has claimed responsibility but police have blamed the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), an outlawed separatist group. It has denied the accusation. IPOB seeks an independent state of Biafra for the Igbo people, indigenous of southeast Nigeria.
Separatist calls for a state of Biafra in the south are a sensitive subject in Nigeria, after a unilateral declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a brutal 30-month civil war. More than one million people, mostly Igbo, were killed in the war.