U.S. embassy convoy in Nigeria attacked, leaving four dead

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Assailants attacked a two-vehicle U.S. government convoy in Nigeria on Tuesday, killing four people and leaving some members of the convoy “unaccounted for,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Wednesday statement.

No U.S. citizens were involved, National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said in a Tuesday briefing.

“We do not yet know the motive for the attack, but we have no indications at this time that it was targeted against our Mission,” Blinken said. U.S. Embassy personnel in Nigeria are working with local officials to “ascertain the location and condition” of convoy members who remain missing, he added.

The convoy was carrying nine Nigerian nationals: five U.S. Mission employees and four members of the Nigeria Police Force, the State Department said. They were in the Ogbaru local government area of the southeastern Anambra State, traveling ahead of a visit by U.S. diplomats to a flood response project.

“The hoodlums murdered two of the Police Mobile Force operatives and two staff of the Consulate, and set their bodies ablaze and their vehicles,” said Tochukwu Ikenga, an Anambra police spokesman, the AP reported.

Nigeria’s southeast has been a site of separatist violence and unrest in recent years, as the country faces kidnappings and banditry even as threats from the Islamist militant organization Boko Haram have decreased.

“The United States has no greater priority than the safety and security of our personnel,” Blinken said in his statement. Condemning the attack, Blinken added that Washington will work closely with Nigerian law enforcement “in seeking to bring those responsible to justice.”

Also on Tuesday, Blinken talked with Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was elected in March and set to be sworn in later this month. The two spoke of continued security cooperation, reforms to support economic growth and the “importance of inclusive leadership that represents all Nigerians,” according to a State Department readout.

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