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Military invade Bayelsa community over killing of four soldiers

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.two suspected pirate camps, 4 houses razed

By Samuel Oyadongha

Military, cemetery
File: Nigerian Soldiers

YENAGOA THE coastal town of Letugbene in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa was Monday evening invaded by the military in search of the alleged killers of four soldiers and a civilian tugboat captain.

No fewer than four houses and two suspected pirate camps were reportedly razed in the coastal enclave on the Atlantic shores of the state by troops.

The invasion, according to a community source, could be termed a retaliatory move by the military following the killing of their personnel and a civilian by some suspected sea pirates along the Letugbene waterway.

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Vanguard learned that the soldiers were escorting a barge conveying some equipment belonging to one of the multinational oil companies operating in the western axis of the state when they came under attack on Sunday afternoon.

Also killed during the attack which reportedly occurred at about 3pm on the fateful day was the civilian captain on board the tugboat towing the barge carrying two cranes allegedly heading to Tunu a Shell location in the mangrove swamp.

A source who spoke anonymously told Vanguard that the military had plan to set up a security post around the troubled Letugbene waterway before the sad turn of event.

He said: “it was indeed a tragic Sunday, a JTF gunboat and open boat came to Letugbene for a meeting with the leadership of the community on how they could set up a security post in the area that same day.

“While the military team that came to the community were deliberating on their mission, some sea pirates terrorising the waterways reportedly sighted a tugboat towing a barge carrying two cranes to a Shell location on the Atlantic fringe and attacked the vessel killing four soldiers and the civilian captain on board the vessel. We gathered that the military team that came to Letugbene only heard of the attack when they had returned to Tunu.”

Narrating the Monday invasion by troops in search of the alleged killers of colleagues, an indigene of the area who preferred not to be identified said: “following the Sunday attack, the military stormed Letugbene Monday morning asking the community to produce the perpetrators of the heinous act. But they were told that the suspects are not from our community. Armed operatives backed by gunboats returned in the afternoon and torched some houses causing the natives to flee their homes and take refuge in the mangrove.”

“What is happening along the Letugbene waterways is becoming a recurring decimal. Miscreants are always taking advantage of the maze of creeks in the area to carry out their wicked actions only to expose the innocent natives to danger of reprisal attacks from the military. The Obiokpo creek linking Azagbene and Ezetu outlets need security outpost to checkmate the activities of these sea bandits,” he added.

Contacted, Spokeman of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Major Victor Olukoya could not be reached after multiple calls and text message.

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