The Joint Task Force deployed to the Niger Delta, has retracted its denial of an attack by militants resulting in the death of four of its soldiers in Bayelsa Creeks.
The military had planned to cover up the casualty which followed warnings by some militant groups that there were fresh hostilities on oil installation and denied the incident happened even as the Commander of the Joint Force christened, Operation Delta Safe rebuffed media inquiries on the incident since Monday.
Despite the earlier stand of the military, several interest groups were sending messages of commiseration to the military, condemning the incident.
The Bayelsa State Government had also reacted in a statement alleging that the incident was the handiwork of its political enemies to diminish the government’s achievements in security.
Sahara Reporters had gathered from community sources in Letugbene, a riverine settlement in Ekeremor, that the military operation to apprehend the militants had unsettled the community residents.
Sequel to the outpours of reactions from media coverage on the attack, the military on Friday confirmed the death of two personnel, a soldier, and a civilian staff, during an ambush by suspected militants.
Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, Spokesman of the Joint Force, confirmed the development in a belated statement issued in Yenagoa on Friday.
He debunked earlier reports that four soldiers and a civilian died in the attack on troops on Aug. 28, at Letugbene community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
“This is to put to rest exaggerated speculations on an incident involving our troops and suspected militants on Monday, August 28th, 2017 around 200 hrs near Letugbene community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
“During the fire fight, one gallant soldier, and a civilian staff attached to the military houseboat paid the supreme price for defending its fatherland against reports of four soldiers killed.”
“A rescue team supported by gunboats was immediately dispatched to the area and they were able to locate and support two other soldiers who engaged the militants,” he said
Abdullahi said that a manhunt had been launched to fish out the perpetrators of the act, some of whom fled into neighboring communities.
He said that the ongoing operation was within the rules of military engagement in line with best practices, assuring innocent residents they had nothing to fear.
“Operation Delta Safe and indeed the Nigerian Military do not carry out reprisal attacks on innocent citizens as alleged in some quarters.”
“Members of the public especially that reside in areas where operations are being conducted are hereby advised to go about their normal lawful duties at this time of Sallah break and celebration,” Mr. Abdullahi added.