By Emma AMAIZE, Warri
JOINT Task Force, JTF, on the Niger-Delta and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, Friday, differed on the number of casualties and weapons allegedly confiscated by militants from soldiers during Wednesday’s gun battle in Delta State.
Although MEND admitted that the JTF actually raided a community where some hostages were kept and secured their release, it said its fighters had been directed to bomb oil installations and kidnap more hostages.
MEND in a statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo said its fighters who ambushed men of the task force at Ayokoromoh, Burutu Local Government Area when they attempted to overrun one of its camps, impounded a large number of weapons, including rocket propelled grenade, RPGs, launchers, general purpose machine guns, browning machine guns, assault rifles and ammunition from the soldiers.
But the spokesman of the JTF, Lt. Col. T.O. Antigha denied the claim by MEND when he was contacted by Saturday Vanguard, yesterday, saying, “I am not aware of such a loss, it’s not true, you know that loss of weapons is a very serious thing in the military. There is no such report from the Sector Command in Warri, Delta state where the incident took place”.
He also dismissed the report that soldiers were killed by militants during attack on the camp of fleeing militant leader, John Togo on Wednesday, stating that few soldiers were injured and they were being attended to.
A security source who corroborated Antigha’s claim that weapons were not seized from soldiers said, “How can they seize weapons from soldiers when they abandoned their own weapons and we recovered them when we got to the camp?”.
However, MEND said, “Reports reaching us from the General Hospital Warri in Delta state, indicate that Ten (10) soldiers were brought in dead and Eighteen (18) seriously injured. A large number of soldiers were reported by our fighters to have drowned”.