For the past few weeks, however, Potiskum has been quiet. Soldiers still mount a series of checkpoints throughout the town, where in the past the military has put neighborhoods in lockdown and launched door-to-door searches for militants.
Oil-rich Nigeria, home to more than 160 million people, maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, which faces international criticism over its nuclear weapon program. In October, a delegation of Nigerian officials led by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Viola Onwuliri visited North Korea.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency did not immediately report the three doctors‘ deaths Sunday. In Pyongyang earlier Sunday, North Koreans marked the Lunar New Year with pilgrimages to the giant statues of their late leaders.
Foreigners have been targets for such attacks in the region in the past. Several Chinese construction workers have been shot dead in recent months around the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Those killings prompted the Chinese government to contact Nigerian officials and ask them to provide better protection for their citizens.
The killings of the doctors come after the attack Friday on polio vaccination workers in Kano, northern Nigeria’s most populous city. No group has yet claimed responsibility for that attack either, though it follows alleged Boko Haram attacks now focusing on softer targets, such as lightly guarded mobile phone towers. Those mobile phone tower attacks have limited the ability of residents and security forces to call for help during attacks, as well as have cut the government’s ability to use the signals to track suspected militants.
In a statement Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the killings of the polio workers and promised that efforts to cut child mortality wouldn’t be stopped by “mindless acts of terrorism.”
“While the government will continue to do everything possible to track down and apprehend agents of terrorism in the country, the president has directed that enhanced security measures be put in place immediately for health workers in high-risk areas,” the statement read.
Despite that promise, however, attackers were able to kill the North Korean doctors and apparently slip away.
Reuben Abati, a presidential spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
• Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Johannesburg and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul contributed to this article.
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Sometimes life requires a paradigm twist.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall