The police in Akwa Ibom say they have recorded a breakthrough in finding the suspected killers of Akwa Ibom monarch shot dead eight years ago.
The late monarch, Robert Ekpo, was killed on January 30, 2011, in his palace by unknown assailants.
He was the paramount ruler of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, and a supreme traditional leader of the Ibibio, the majority ethnic group in the state.
The state government had described the monarch's murder as being "alien" to Akwa Ibom culture and "unprecedented in the history of the state".
Odiko MacDon, the police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom, said on Friday that the suspects - three of them - were gunned down by the police while they were trying to escape.
The police did not reveal the identity of the suspects.
Mr MacDon, who was briefing journalists in Uyo on the successes recorded by the police in the state, said the suspects were killed during a police operation to rescue a kidnapped foreign national.
The slain suspects, according to the police, had kidnapped the foreign national, one Gassan Naser, an official of a construction company in the state, in April.
A police sergeant, Mohammed Sarba, who was with Mr Naser, was killed and his AK-47 rifle taken away by the suspects, the police said.
The police said the suspects were also involved in the kidnapping of a retired army general in the state, Edet Akpan, and the killing of one Udosen, a medical doctor with St. Luke's Hospital, Anua. They were also allegedly involved in other kidnapping and robbery operations in Akwa Ibom and neighbouring Cross River state.
The police also said they have arrested five persons who invaded a church, Full Gospel Church, in Abak, last month, with machetes and axes.
The five held members hostage and disposed them of their phones and money, the police said.
The police gave the suspects' names as Promise Ezekiel, Idongesit Etim, Cosmos Udofia, Moses Etim, and Godwin Essien.
Their arrest followed a distress call, the police said.
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