Pirates kill three JTF soldiers in Bayelsa

Dare-devil gunmen suspected to be sea pirates have attacked and murdered three soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, on the waterways of Bayelsa State.

It was learnt that the suspected pirates in the vicious operations on Sunday evening, also hijacked a military gunboat after killing the soldiers. It was also learnt that the pirates ambushed the soldiers and killed them at Santa Barbara, a notorious river in Nembe area of the state.

The Sunday attack is one in a series of attacks on security personnel and the civilian populace in the state.

In the recent attack, the victims were said to be escorting some items to Brass terminal owned by an international oil company when the gunmen opened fire on them.

A security source said the soldiers were sailing from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to Brass in Bayelsa State, when they were allegedly attacked.

The source, who did not want his name mentioned, said, “They were ambushed by deadly pirates. It is suspected that the gunmen hijacked the gunboat, killed the soldiers and threw their dead bodies into the water or they shot and pushed them into the water before stealing the gunboat.

“The gunboat appeared to be the target of the hoodlums, especially as arms were being stockpiled by militants ahead of the 2015 election. The Santa Barbara, where the incident took place is in Nembe. It is a hotbed for pirate activities in the state.”

When contacted, the JTF said it did not believe the soldiers were dead, but missing.

The coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Col. Mustapha Anka, confirmed the attack, but said it was too early to conclude that the soldiers were killed by the pirates.

Anka said the JTF had put its search-and-rescue team in motion, adding that frantic efforts were being made to locate the soldiers’ whereabouts.

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