At least six police officers have been killed in Anambra state in a series of deadly attacks that have seen gunmen since Tuesday, targeting police stations and patrol vans, stealing arms and ammunition and leaving residents in fear of an imminent outbreak of violence.
Armed men attacked a police patrol team on Tuesday at Oraifite Ekwusigo, killing three officers and seizing their arms, then on Wednesday a police outpost in Nnewi south was sacked and 14 AK47 rifles stolen, residents and lawmakers from the area say.
A fresh attack occurred on Thursday morning at Ukpor divisional police leaving three police officers dead.
The state police authorities have refused to comment on the incident, but witnesses blame the attacks on robbers who reportedly cornered the police teams and overpower them after heavy shootings.
Reached on telephone Thursday afternoon, the police commissioner, Bala Nasarawa, referred inquiries to the force spokesperson, Emeka Chukwuemeka, who could not be reached.
But reports say the attacks have heightened fears of possible outbreak of violence in the commercial towns that have seen increased violence recently.
The incident, added to the spate of violence in the past, has taken a toll on the business community there, a lawmaker from the area said.
“Our people have become refugees in their homes and they now live in fear and are scared of where the next attack could come through,” said Chris Azubogu, who represents Nnewi north and south in the House of Representatives.
“The Nnewi business community has been deserted and our federal constituency is now like a ghost town,” he said.
In the Wednesday attack, which came after three police officers had already been killed, residents say gunmen numbering about seven, attacked a police station in Amichi, Nnewi South Council area, releasing suspects and carting away the AK47 rifles and rounds of ammunitions.
The attackers reportedly struck at about 2.30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, opening fire on the police station, and wounding one officer while the others scuttled away. The attack lasted about two hours.