Gunmen have killed five police officers in Ulakwo, a community in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, south-east Nigeria.
The incident happened on Friday at about 8 a.m., PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Sources told this newspaper that the officers drove from a neighbouring community in Abor Mbaise Local Government Area of the state and later stopped by at a junction in the Ngor Okpala Council Area to eat in a local restaurant.
The gunmen, it was gathered, immediately drove to the area and opened fire on the officers, killing three of them on the spot.
Two of the officers, who initially escaped with gunshot injuries and ran to a nearby shop for safety, were traced and also killed by the gunmen.
Apart from the slain officers, a couple who own the shop was also killed by the attackers. The couple has been identified as Mr and Mrs Chinaka Nwagu.
“They (gunmen) left with the guns of the policemen after killing them,” Onyebuchi Okpara, a resident of the community, told this newspaper.
A video clip, apparently shot after the attack, has been circulating on various WhatsApp groups.
In the clip, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, three bodies of the officers were lying along the road in a pool of their blood.
The bodies of the couple and two other officers were also seen lying in the shop, where they were killed by the hoodlums.
Some residents were seen weeping and lifting the hands of the victims, probably to confirm if they were truly dead.
Mr Okpara said the slain couple relocated from Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, about one year ago.
When contacted, the police spokesperson in Imo State, Henry Okoye, confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Okoye, an assistant superintendent of police, said the police have launched an operation to track down the attackers.
“As I am speaking with you now, intensive patrol is ongoing in Ngor Okpala with the sole aim of arresting the perpetrators of the dastardly act and bringing them to face the law,” he said.
The police spokesperson said the gunmen usually attack and quickly return to their criminal enclaves to prevent security agencies from getting hold of them.
“But now we are taking the battle to them. We are raiding their enclaves,” Mr Okoye assured.
Like other states in Nigeria’s south-east, security has deteriorated in Imo State with frequent attacks by armed persons.
The attacks often target security agencies, government officials and facilities.
The Nigerian government has accused the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks.
IPOB is a group leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants to be carved out from the south-east and some parts of south-south Nigeria.
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