ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Suspected separatists on Monday killed a local chief and two of his aides in Nigeria’s southeast, police said Tuesday, the latest incident in renewed attacks blamed on separatists in the region.
The attackers, identified as members of the leading pro-Biafra group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB, shot dead Ignatius Asor in his palace in the Oguta council area of Imo State, said Michael Abattam, spokesperson for police in Imo.
The police said the gunmen arrived at the local palace in Imo’s Obudi Agwa village, where they were received by the chief after disguising themselves as “persons in distress” and who had come to report an emergency situation to him.”
“The unsuspecting Royal father allowed them into his palace, sat down with them and in the process of explaining the reason for their visit, they brought out guns, shot and killed the (chief) and two of his aides, and hurriedly fled the palace,” said Abattam.
Emma Powerful, a spokesperson for IPOB, denied the group’s involvement in the attack, accusing the police and government of trying to “implicate us in every criminality going on in our territory.”
There have been a series of attacks blamed on IPOB and its militant arm in recent months. The outlawed separatist group has been pressing for the region to break away from the West African nation and become independent.
Authorities say the group is responsible for the deaths of hundreds in the region and many of those targeted in the violent attacks are security forces or their informants as well as local leaders who have spoken against the group’s separatist agitation.
Africa’s most populous nation already faces the deadly threat of Boko Haram extremists and other armed groups in the country’s northeast and northwest regions.