- JTF: No deaths recorded, all missing soldiers back alive
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
There was confusion wednesday in Yenagoa Bayelsa State, over conflicting reports of the death of some military men attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF) fighting militancy in the Niger Delta.
It was gathered that some gunmen suspected to be militants ambushed and killed the four soldiers and a civilian along the waterways of Letugbene, Ekeremor Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
But the JTF spokesman in the region, Maj. Ibrahim Abdullahi, told THISDAY on Thursday that the special security outfit had not lost any man.
He admitted that there was actually an incident in the creeks, but said all the soldiers who had earlier been missing had all returned and joined their colleagues in their regular units.
â€œThey have all returned. They were thought to be missing before, but they have been found alive and have since rejoined their fellow soldiers in the places they were deployed. So, I can tell you that no soldier died.â€
â€œIf the soldiers werenâ€™t alive there is no way I will tell you that they have rejoined their colleagues,â€ Abdullahi said
But sources said the team of soldiers were returning from Letugbene community when they were waylaid by armed youths who reportedly overpowered the soldiers, seized their arms and moved them to a location in the creeks.
The hoodlums were said to have, after probing the soldiers for information on their operations, shot them dead, while one of the civilians, a boat driver was said to have escaped initially.
However, even the only survivor of the attack who reportedly jumped into the water, was later shot by the gunmen, according to a source.
Chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Central Zone, Mr. Tare Porri, who confirmed that the incident indeed happened, condemned the killing of the soldiers describing it as bizarre and unprovoked.
Porri said they were killed in cold blood, adding that his zonal leadership would meet on Thursday (today) to discuss the issue and other problems affecting the zone.
But he expressed worry that the incident had already led to the deployment of soldiers to begin a military operation in Letugbene and Ebelabiri to fish out the alleged perpetrators.
â€œTwo days ago, four military officers were killed in cold blood alongside other civilians. Military officers went to Letugbene community and on their way back, some persons accosted them and killed all of them.
â€œOnly one of them escaped. Military, yesterday morning retaliated, invaded the communities and burnt down houses. The operations are still ongoing and it is spreading to other communities like Ebelabiriâ€, Porri said.
A police source who did not want his name in print, said he was aware that some soldiers were killed in the attack, but added that the civilian attached to the soldiers escaped.