Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Four soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force, JTF, Operation Delta Safe,ODS, who are currently carrying out an operation codenamed ‘Crocodile Smile’, to rid the Niger Delta of criminalities, were on Monday feared dead in the creeks of Bayelsa State.
The loss of the security personnel, it was learnt, followed a boat mishap along the Brass Water Front in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa, which led to the troops drowning in the water which was said to have risen to a high level at the time.
All the weapons in the possession of the troops at the time of the accident, including service rifles, were also said to be missing.
It wasn’t clear why the boat capsized, but it was gathered that during the accident, which occurred about 10am on Monday, many other soldiers were able to swim to safety, though their weapons could not be recovered at the time of this report.
No military officer was willing to comment on the matter, but it was learnt that the troops, comprising mainly the newly deployed officers, were among the missing or those feared dead.
The government recently commenced the mass deployment of military personnel in the creeks of the Niger Delta consequent upon the prolonged destruction of oil and gas infrastructure belonging to the Federal Government and multinationals.
The security operations against renewed militancy, sea piracy and search for those threatening to hoist the Niger Delta Republic flag on October 1, has continued despite indications that the militants had signified their intention to begin peace talks with the government.
An indigene of the Brass Community identified as Etta, who said he witnessed the boat mishap, noted that attempts by community youths and other soldiers to assist in a rescue operation failed. Many of the affected soldiers could not be found, he added.