JTF engages militants in gun battle, kills one

The joint military task force deployed in the Niger Delta to protect oil facilities said it killed a suspected militant in a gun duel and arrested several oil theft suspects.

The JTF announced the development in Yeogoa, Bayelsa State, in a statement issued by Spokesman of Operation Delta Safe, Lt.-Cdr. Thomas Otuji.

It said the incident occurred during one of several operations it carried out within the past seven days across the Niger Delta region.

“In one of the operations, troops arrived at the suspected militants’ hideouts following a tip off and engaged them in a gun battle.

“One was killed and two suspects arrested.

“Items recovered include one AK-47 rifle and a magazine loaded with 20 rounds of 7.62 millimetre-special ammunition.”

In another development, troops of Operation Delta Safe deployed to Southern Akwa Ibom received distress calls from the public of illegalities along Quo Iboe Terminal Jetty waterside in Ibeno community.

According to Otuji, the troops cordoned off the area up to Oron waterside and encountered suspected oil thieves engaged in illegal refining activities.

“Some of the criminals absconded on sighting our troops; however, 13 oil thieves were apprehended.”

He said that the suspects were in the custody of the Navy and that further investigation was ongoing.

Items recovered from the suspected oil thieves include: three wooden Cotonou boats, 180 units of 200 litres capacity drums filled with illegally refined petroleum products and one locally made pistol.

Following a distress call received by troops in Bayelsa, indicating that sea pirates were terrorising innocent citizens at Ogubene Creeks, troops deployed to Kulama oil rig trailed the pirates to the location.

“The pirates fled on sighting gunboats from a distance. The troops, however, rescued one Mr Dokubo Charles who said pirates absconded with his 25 Horse Power engine mounted on a wooden boat.

“The pirates are being trailed for possible apprehension,” Otuji said.

He said that the troops also discovered and seized two large metal barges at Adokiri around Okrika axis used by oil thieves.

The barges contained about 500,000 litres of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.

Otuji added that while on surveillance patrol of Chevron pipeline at Sagbama Creek in Warri West Local Government, the troops discovered an illegal pipeline buried under ground by suspected vandals, Otuji added.

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