Gunmen have beheaded a police officer in Abia State, south-east Nigeria.
The victim, identified simply as Linus, was beheaded on Tuesday when the gunmen attacked a police team at Ndiegoro, Aba in Aba South Local Government Area of the state, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Sources said the other officers fled the scene after briefly engaging the gunmen in a shoot-out.
The hoodlums later captured Mr Linus, an assistant superintendent of police, who was with the officers and reportedly took away his rifle and uniform after beheading him.
The gunmen were shouting that they had declared war on police in Aba. “They beheaded the officer,” a resident of the area, who asked not to be named, told this newspaper, Thursday morning.
He said many residents have fled the area out of fear.
The victim, otherwise known as Agbalagba hailed from Ebonyi State, another state in the South-east, but resided in Abia State where he served as an officer.
There have been clashes between security agencies and some hoodlums in the area lately, residents said.
Residents say the beheading of the officer might have been in retaliation for the killing of a gunman by the police on 13 April in the area.
Geoffrey Ogbonna, the police spokesperson in Abia State, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking his comments about the beheading of the officer.
But Mr Ogbonna, a superintendent of police, would later confirm the incident to Punch newspaper.
“The dastardly act is highly condemned and the public is enjoined to help with credible information on the perpetrators or anyone found with a firearm suspected to have been unlawfully obtained,” he said.
The police spokesperson urged residents of the state to assist the police with “credible information” that will help to track down the hoodlums.
He also appealed to them to report to the police any non-security operative seen with a firearm in the area, assuring that the identity of the informants would be protected.
Like other states in Nigeria’s south-east, security has deteriorated in Abia 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 leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south Nigeria.
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