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Blood flows in Niger Delta

Posted by By CHRIS IKWUNZE, Port Harcourt, EMMANUEL OGOIGBE, Warri on 2006/08/22 | Views: 1301 |

Blood flows in Niger Delta


No fewer than 60 militants in the Niger Delta were killed by the Joint Military Task Force in the last two days in a bid by the Federal Government to rid the area of spectre of hostage taking and criminality.

No fewer than 60 militants in the Niger Delta were killed by the Joint Military Task Force in the last two days in a bid by the Federal Government to rid the area of spectre of hostage taking and criminality.

Ten were killed by members of the task force in Bayelsa on Sunday while 50 Ijaw insurgents lost their lives in a clash with soldiers at a border town between Delta and Bayelsa states Monday.

But the oil firms operating in the region have expressed concern at the renewed crack down , fearing that it could escalate hostage-taking and attacks on their facilities.

The daring Ijaw youths, it was gathered, engaged the armed soldiers in a fierce battle at Yedebe Community in Burutu council area of Delta State which resulted in heavy casualty.

Investigation revealed there was heavy cross fire between the soldiers and the armed youths, in which some of the villagers were injured.
But the Commanding Officer of the NNS Delta, Warri Naval Base, Captain Mufutau Ajibade, who confirmed the incident said men of the Operation Restore Hope had stepped into the matter which he believed has been brought under control.

Major Hammed Said, public relations officer of the task force who confirmed the incident, however, declined further comments, adding that details of the attack were yet sketchy.
A military source also said they were acting on President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent directive to wipe out all forms of criminality in the area.

Meanwhile, the Yedebe community and its environs has been deserted following the fight. The militants in Bayelsa were reportedly shot dead in an encounter while returning from a mission of helping to release a Shell worker, a Nigerian, who was abducted on August 8.
This came as a clash between two cults in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State Sunday left two persons dead.
The two rival groups – Dewell and Degbam were said to have gone wild following the arrests of a serving commissioner in the state and a member of the State House of Assembly.
The disturbance lead to the setting ablaze of some houses and the death of the two deceased believed to be Degbam members.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said that the gunfight between its fighters and soldiers erupted on Sunday night after militants went to help release the Shell worker.
"We sent out 14 fighters to effect the release of a Shell worker held in Bayelsa State. This was successfully effected and on the way back, they were ambushed by about 10 JTF (Joint Task Force) gunboats," MEND said.

"They were attacked without provocation or warning and we lost 10 of the 14 fighters in this attack," it added.
At press time, MEND said the Shell worker was in one of its boats when they were attacked, but it did not know whether he was killed.

The Shell worker was abducted during a routine visit to the community of Letugbene, in the presence of Bayelsa State government officials. Industry sources said the state government had been leading negotiations to secure his freedom.

Daily Sun learnt that the Dewell cult and Degbam, both fighting for political supremacy in the oil-rich Ogoni, had clashed at the early hours of Sunday leaving two dead and several others seriously wounded.
Although the identities of the dead cultists were not immediately known, police image-maker, Mrs. Ireju Barasua who confirmed the incident pleaded with journalists to stop giving the cultists prominent coverage as the publicity seemed to have emboldened them.

Reports said the latest clash early Sunday was in reaction to the arrest and detention of the commissioner and lawmaker who were picked up last Friday by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS).

The clash in Ogoni was coming on a day frustrated hoodlums wanted to raid the five star Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt and kidnap foreign nationals but met stiff resistance from mobile policemen stationed at the hotel premises. They consequently descended on a nearby supermarket (name withheld) carting away goods and cash valued at several millions of naira.
Daily Sun learnt that the armed men had stormed the hotel in two jeeps with the intent to snatch some white men lodging or frolicking at the hotel but met superior firepower by the police who engaged them in a shoot out.

After over 30 minutes of gun duel, with the hoodlums not getting near their target, and more police reinforcement coming from the nearby PMF barrack, the hoodlums fled, but not without visiting a nearby supermarket which was still open for business at that time.
The attack led to the demolition Monday of all illegal structures around the hotel premises especially makeshift containers used by black market currency operators and believed to have provided cover for the hoodlums.

More than 40 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped since January, with around 15 abducted in the past two weeks. Ten of them have been released while five, an American, a Briton, a German, an Irishman and a Lebanese construction worker are still in captivity.
An unidentified caller demanded a ransom in exchange for the release of the Lebanese captive but the man's employers, Homan Engineering Company, said it would not bow to blackmail.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.