Troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation Restore Hope late Friday engaged suspected militants in a bloody battle at Bakana Community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A security source said the encounter lasted several hours, as the JTF overpowered the militants and destroyed their camp, while some dead bodies of the militants and several arms and ammunition were also recovered.
Confirming the development, the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC), Colonel Rabe Abubakar revealed that the troops acted on credible intelligence that there was movement of arms and ammunition into the kidnappers’ camp and decided to conduct cordon and search operation around the area before the militants opened fire.
According to him, the militants were led by one “Iron man”, adding that they specialized in the kidnapping of expatriates and prominent Nigerians at Bakana Community.
Colonel Abubakar further stated that after the ensuing gunfire, the militants were overpowered by JTF and fled their camp, revealing that the operation would go on until the area stabilized.
Meanwhile, JTF troops raided a notorious militant camp at Bony, around Yokri General area of Delta State and chased militants who terrorized residents and attacked oil installations.
According to Colonel Abubakar, the militants fled after the initial encounter and took refuge in their camp, which was later razed down by the troops, revealing that the militants sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries in the shootout.
Among arms and ammunition recovered at the militants’ camp, as Colonel Abubakar said, were 1 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG); 1 Pump Action Rifle; 2 G3 rifles; 1 Fabrique Nationale (FN) rifle; 13 FN empty magazine; 14 empty AK 47 magazine; 4 bridge blocks; 606 rounds of 9mm ammunition for pistol; 27 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO); 2 rounds of 7.62mm (Special); 32 rounds of 14mm mortal and 2 rounds of dynamites.
Also recovered were 2 VHF handheld radio, 14 fragment life jackets, 1 detonator cable, 2 sledge hammers, 2 pick axes and many army camouflage uniforms, among other items.
Colonel Rabe reiterated that “we will continue to act on credible information in order to get rid of individuals or groups that pose security threat to the communities, the region and our nation at large. We want to be more proactive this time around within our mandate.”
Meanwhile, a leader of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Cynthia Whyte has criticized Niger Delta governors for being more interested in show-business rather than real people-development business.