Gunmen ambushed a US convoy in Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, on Tuesday, killing four persons and kidnapping three more, according to police and a US official.
Separatists in the region have increased their attacks in recent years, mostly targeting police or government structures.
“No US citizen was in the convoy,” police spokeswoman Ikenga Tochukwu said.
He said the assailants “murdered two Police Mobile Force operatives and two consulate staff” before setting their car “ablaze.”
According to police, the attack occurred on Tuesday at “3:30 pm (14:30 GMT) along Atani, Osamale road” in Ogbaru district.
According to Tochukwu, joint security personnel were deployed to the scene, but the gunmen managed to abduct two police officers and a driver.
He said in his statement that a “rescue/recovery operation” was beginning Tuesday evening.
During a press conference in Washington, DC, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged the strike.
“A US vehicle convoy was attacked.” “What I can tell you is that there were no US citizens involved,” Kirby stated.
The incident was also confirmed by the State Department.
“US Mission Nigeria personnel are investigating with Nigerian security services,” a spokeswoman stated.
“The security of our personnel is always paramount, and we take extensive precautions when organizing trips to the field.”
Officials in Nigeria frequently attribute attacks in the southeast to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement and its armed component, the Eastern Security Network.
IPOB has denied culpability for the violence on numerous occasions.
Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, is in government detention and faces treason charges after being detained abroad and returned to Nigeria.
Separatism is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, where Igbo army soldiers in the southeast declared an independent Biafra Republic in 1967, sparking a three-year civil war that killed over one million people.
The violence in the southeast is only one of the numerous concerns confronting President-elect Bola Tinubu, who takes over Africa’s most populous country later this month.
In addition, the military is fighting a 14-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast, kidnapping and killing gangs in the northwest and central states, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Following a brief period of quiet during the presidential and governorship elections in February and March, attacks have increased in recent weeks.
Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, who contested and lost in the February 25 presidential election, is among those citing fraud in Tinubu’s victory.
The electoral commission acknowledged “glitches” in the voting process but refuted charges that it was not free and fair.