Gunmen suspected to be sea pirates have attacked and murdered three soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, on the waterways of Bayelsa State.
Sources said that the suspected pirates in the vicious operations on Sunday evening, also hijacked a military gunboat after killing their victims.
It was also learnt that the pirates laid ambush on 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.
“They were ambushed by deadly pirates. It is suspected that the gunmen either hijacked the gunboat, later 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 appears to be the target of the hoodlums, especially as arms were being stockpiled by militants for 2015. The Santa Barbara, where the incident took place is in Nembe. It is a hotbed for pirate acticities in the state,” said a source who pleaded anonymity.
JTF however said that it did not believe the soldiers were dead, insisting, rather that they are missing.
JTF’s Coordnator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Col. Mustapha Anka, confirmed the attack, but said it was premature 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.