There are fears that the casualties may rise following the killing of two policemen and two US embassy staff in Anambra State amid questions as to how the gunmen who unleashed the attack were able to side-step the huge presence Navy staff manning checkpoints in the area.
The fear over the casualty figures rising may not be unconnected with the taking abduction of two other policemen and a driver.
Already, the blame-storming session (trading blames to pin it on someone) has started with the Police Command in Anambra claiming ignorance of the presence of the team in the state.
It is now not clear where at least four policemen (the two killed and two abducted) came from.
Also, the Police has fingered the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the heinous crime.
A knowledgeable source wondered where the team was camped before embarking on the ill-fated trip. “The Americans would normally stay in an area that has an airport and a comfortable hotel close to the road for easy evacuation,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the names of those killed have not been made known, but according to The Guardian, an atmosphere of shock and grief hangs heavy over Anambra State as news spreads of the horrifying attack.
The newspaper, in its online edition adds: The victims, who were on a humanitarian mission in the state, were ruthlessly shot dead during an ambush on Tuesday. The incident unfolded in the Amiyi/Eke Ochuche communities of Ogbaru Local Government Area, sending shockwaves throughout the region.
As the details of the attack slowly emerge, the motive behind this heinous act remains unclear. Local sources in the area recount how the assailants brazenly ambushed the victims, opening fire without hesitation. Panic engulfed the community as the attackers disrupted a gathering of residents eagerly awaiting medical assistance from UNICEF officials.
The eyewitnesses revealed, with trembling voices, that the victims included both white and black officials who had selflessly embarked on a medical outreach to provide aid to the rural riverine areas. Tragically, four lives were cut short in this senseless act of violence, while others sustained injuries as they managed to escape with their UNICEF-marked vehicle.
In response to the devastating incident, the spokesperson for the Anambra Police Command, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, issued a statement acknowledging the severity of the attack. He confirmed that joint security forces had initiated a rescue and recovery operation in Ogbaru LGA. The assailants had not only murdered two Police Mobile Force operatives and two staff members of the US Consulate but had also callously set their bodies and vehicles ablaze.
To compound the horror, the attackers, upon realizing that security forces were closing in, abducted two additional police operatives and the driver of the second vehicle before fleeing the scene. Importantly, it was clarified that no US citizens were present in the convoy during the attack.
As the state grapples with this shocking act of violence, questions are being raised about the security protocols surrounding such missions. The Anambra Police Command expressed its regret that a convoy of this nature entered the state without notifying local authorities or engaging any security agency. However, it emphasized the determination of the joint security forces to combat insurgency and restore stability to the region.
“The joint security forces have embarked on a rescue/recovery operation in Ogbaru LGA, following an attack on a convoy of staff of US Consulate today May 15, 2023 by 3:30 pm along Atani, Osamale road,” said DSP Ikenga, via a statement made available to The Guardian.
“The hoodlums murdered two of the Police Mobile Force operatives, and two staff of the Consulate, and set their bodies set ablaze alongside their vehicles.
“Also, the arsonist/murderers on sighting the responding joint security forces abducted two police operatives, the driver of the second vehicle and took to their heels. No U S citizen was in the convoy
“The command, while reacting to the situation regrets that a convoy of such or any related will enter the state without recourse to the police in the area or any security agency, assured that the battle against the insurgents in the State is focused and it will remain sustained until such a time security stability is fully restored. Further details shall be communicated, please.”
▪︎ Additional report by The Guardian