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Troops rescue rice-laden boat, passengers

•Kill 7 militants during operation

The Joint Military Force deployed in the Niger Delta, ‘Operation Delta Safe’ says it killed five suspected militants, two pirates and arrested three suspects in several operations in the past three days.

Troops reportedly rescued a boat laden with rice and passengers from suspected Niger Delta militants who were killed during a rescue operation at Parrot Island in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Speaking with newsmen in Yenagoa, spokesman of the joint task force, Lieutenant-Commodore Thomas Otuji, said the feats were achieved in the ongoing operations against criminals and oil thieves in the Niger Delta region.

According to Otuji, troops deployed in its sector 4 and local vigilance group ambushed and killed five suspected members of Bakassi Strike Force militants’ gang who hijacked the cargo laden boat and passengers.

“The militants had earlier seized the boat conveying large quantities of rice from a marketer and passengers on board and the owner of the rice was asked to pay N500, 000 as ransom.

“The troop placed ‘bait’ during the rescue operation and later professionally engaged the militants in gun- duel, killing five of them and  rescuing the passengers unhurt,” Otuji explained.

He said the troops also arrested two suspected militants and a cultist at Ikot Ene, Akpabuyo local Government Area of Cross Rivers State, who were presently in custody for interrogation.

Otuji also said that in another development, troops of Sector 3 of ‘Operation Delta Safe’ at Idama water side in Rivers State got reports of pirates’ attack on innocent citizens and responded by sinking the pirates’ boat.

The spokesman said one Ak-47 riffle, three magazines with 20 pieces of 7.62 mm special ammunition and a life vest were recovered from the pirates who used a banned 200 Horse Power outboard engine.

He said that following a tip-off, troops deployed in Kula-Abonema waterways killed two suspected sea pirates at Sonykiri creeks near Olakpoko in Kula while two escaped with gunshot injuries.

According to Otuji, one Ak-47 riffle, two AK-47 magazines, 40 pieces on 7.62 mm special ammunition, two mobile phones and one speedboat mounted with 140 Horse Power outboard engine were recovered by the troops.

He, however, noted that troops had intensified patrols in the ongoing operations and urged members of the public to support the military by providing timely information to aid in securing the Niger Delta region.