No fewer than seven militants have reportedly fallen to the firepower of the joint military task force deployed to the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Delta Safe.
The task force, on Wednesday, said it killed five suspected militants and two pirates, while three other suspects were arrested in different operations over the last three days.
Troops also recovered a boat laden with rice and passengers from suspected militants killed in a security operation on Parrot Island, Bakassi Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross Rivers State.
Spokesman of the joint task force, Lt.-Cdr. Thomas Otuji, said the feats were achieved in ongoing operations against criminals and oil thieves in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, troops deployed to the operation’s Sector 4 and a local vigilance group ambushed and killed five suspected members of militant Bakassi Strike Force who hijacked the cargo-laden boat and passengers.
“The militants had earlier seized the boat conveying large quantities of rice from a marketer, with passengers on board, and the owner of the rice was asked to pay N500,000 ransom.
“The troops placed ‘bait’ during the rescue operation and professionally engaged the militants in a gun duel, killing five of them and rescuing the passengers unhurt,” Otuji explained.
He said troops also arrested two suspected militants and a cultist at Ikot Ene, Akpabuyo LGA in Cross Rivers who are currently in custody for interrogation.
Besides, troops in Sector 3 of Operation Delta Safe at Idama waterside, Rivers State, got reports of an attack by pirates on innocent citizens and responded, sinking the pirates’ boat. Otuji said one AK-47 rifle, three magazines with 20 pieces of 7.62mm special ammunition and a life vest were recovered from the pirates who used a banned 200 horsepower outboard engine.
He also said following a tip-off, troops deployed on Kula-Abonema waterways killed two suspected sea pirates at Sonykiri creeks, near Olakpoko in Kula, while two suspects escaped with gunshot wounds. One Ak-47 riffle, 2 AK-47 magazines, 40 pieces on 7.62mm special ammunition, two mobile phones and one speedboat mounted with 140horsepower outboard engine were recovered by the troops.
The spokesman added that troops had intensified patrols in the ongoing operations, and solicited the public’s support by providing timely information to aid in securing the Niger Delta region.