Three North Korean doctors have been murdered in north-eastern Nigeria, with one beheaded, in the latest attack on health workers in a nation under assault by a radical Islamic sect.
The deaths of the doctors on Saturday night in Potiskum, a town in Yobe state long under attack by the sect known as Boko Haram, comes after gunmen killed at least nine women administering polio vaccines in Kano, the major city of Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.
The two attacks raise new questions over whether the extremist sect, targeted by Nigeria’s police and military, has picked a new soft target in its guerrilla campaign.
The attackers apparently struck at the North Korean doctors inside their home, said Dr. Mohammed Mamman, chairman of the Hospital Managing Board of Yobe State. The North Korean doctors had no security guards at their residence.
By the time soldiers arrived at the house, they found the doctors’ wives hiding in a flower bed outside their home. At the property, they found the corpses of the men, all bearing what appeared to be machete wounds.
Initially, doctors at the hospital who worked with the physicians identified them as being from South Korea, while police identified the dead as being from China. However, Dr Mamman said that those killed were from North Korea and had lived in the state since 2005 as part of a technical exchange programme.
There are more than a dozen other North Korean doctors posted to the state under the programme, as well as engineers, Dr Mamman said. He said all will receive immediate protection from security forces.
“It is very unfortunate,” Dr Mamman said of the killings.