Five security officers including two soldiers were killed at the weekend by suspected separatists in Nigeria’s oil hub of Port Harcourt, according to a police memo seen Monday by AFP.

The capital of southern oil-rich Rivers state, Port Harcourt, borders southeast Nigeria which has seen a surge in deadly attacks targeting the police and other security forces in the past few months.

A police internal memo seen by AFP said “armed men believed to be Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members attacked a Joint Task Force (JTF) checkpoint, made up of nine police and two soldiers”.

IPOB, who has not responded to the claim, is an outlawed movement that wants an independent state of Biafra for the Igbo people, indigenous of southeast Nigeria.

The police memo said the attacks took place in two locations in Port Harcourt on Saturday, and that two burnt corpses were recovered in one location while three were recovered in another.

It said the gunmen seized two rifles and two vans during the attacks.

The police, which has not commented publicly on the incidents, said it had launched a manhunt to find those responsible for the attack.

The Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the killing of “three of our operatives” in the area.

Local media said nine security personnel, including four police were killed in the assault.

Dozens of security personnel have been killed and police stations burnt in a wave of assaults by gunmen in the region.

Also on Saturday, three police officers died when gunmen attacked the residence of nearby Imo state’s governor.

The authorities have blamed IPOB for the attack but the group has denied the charges.

Separatist calls for a state of Biafra in the south are a sensitive subject in Nigeria, after a unilateral declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a brutal 30-month civil war.

More than one million people, mostly Igbo, were killed in the war.


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