Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
At least four suspected Niger Delta militants were killed in the early hours of yesterday while several others who were wounded escaped into the creeks following an attack on a military House Boat in Rivers State.
During the clash at about 4.30 yesterday morning , four soldiers who are currently receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital were injured while a civilian was also shot and killed by the militants.
The latest incident happened just a few days after a similar attack on a settlement for security operatives in Ogbogbagene in Bomadi, Delta State, in which one soldier was killed and a policeman as well as a civil defence operative were injured.
Brig. Gen. Kevin Aligbe, Deputy Force Commander, Operation Delta Safe, who also doubles as the commander of the land component of the special security outfit, told journalists that both attacks were â€œunprovokedâ€.
â€œThese same faceless criminals attacked own troops deployed in Tuma House Boat in Rivers State at about 04.30 hours. The bandits were repelled by vigilant troops and they suffered heavy casualties while a few of them ran into the adjoining creeks.
â€œUnfortunately, four soldiers were injured while one civilian diedâ€, Aligbe disclosed, adding that the crackdown on the bandits and their sponsors had been intensified.
Aligbe, who spoke at the JTF headquarters in Igbogene, outskirts of Yenagoa, noted that several suspects had been arrested and were being profiled by the military, while those found to be innocent were being released.
On the attack in Bomadi and concerns raised by several Ijaw groups , the JTF said the high command of the security outfit had already visited the scenes where the soldiers were deployed, insisting that no houses were razed neither was anyone molested.
The Deputy Commander said he visited the areas accompanied by their traditional rulers, noting that the operation was abiding with the highest standard of the rules of military engagement.
He added that the miscreants used the cover of darkness to open fire on the troops and killed a soldier and carted away some equipment, stressing that communities must ensure that criminals are not shielded.
â€œIn order to arrest the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, troops are trailing the criminals who fled into the communities after the crime. Communities must not condone or harbour criminals.
â€œTherefore, they are kindly obliged to reveal the identities of these criminals as they will be smoked out from their hideouts in order to face justiceâ€, he said.
He explained that following the reports of invasion of local communities, he along with the paramount ruler , Godspower Oporomo, the king of Kerebiri and chiefs from 10 communities visited the affected communities, noting that the areas remained calm.
Aligbe said all the wounded soldiers were in stable conditions, adding that only one of the affected security personnel was seriously wounded.