Three soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, and a civilian boat driver, have again been killed by gunmen operating along the waterways of Bayelsa State.
The soldiers were killed on Tuesday, two days to Christmas, barely three days after the same number of JTF’s soldiers lost their lives in a pirate attack along Santa Barbara, a notorious river in Nembe, Nembe local government area of the state.
In the Santa Barbara incident, which occurred on Sunday, the bandits hijacked a military gunboat used by the victims to escort items from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to Brass terminal owned by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
The Nation gathered that before JTF’s search-and-rescue team could recover the bodies of the Brass-bound soldiers, gunmen launched a fresh attack on soldiers at Azagbene, Ekeremor local government area.
It was learnt that a boat conveying the soldiers to their routine duties in the area came under attack at about 11.30am on Tuesday.
A security source, who pleaded anonymity, said after the gunmen killed the soldiers, they carted away their rifles with 180 rounds of ammunition.
He said the civilian driver of the boat was not spared as he was also killed by the gunmen.
He said: “This is a bad time for soldiers. Just three days after three soldiers whose corpses had yet to be found were killed, three more JTF’s soldiers were also attacked and killed in similar circumstances on Tuesday.
“The soldiers were ambushed and killed by the gunmen who made away with their rifles and ammunition. The Niger Delta region especially waterways in Bayelsa State is gradually returning to the dark days of militancy. Losing six soldiers within two days is massive.”
The source further attributed the attacks against armed soldiers to the ongoing arms stockpiling in the region ahead of the 2015 elections.
“They are stockpiling arms for the 2015 elections or preparing to resume hostilities in case the 2015 election does not favour them.
“That is why you see them attacking armed security operatives and stealing their weapons. You recall that in October four policemen escort items belonging to Agip were killed with their gunboat hijacked.
“Sometimes ago, pirates tried to steal a gunboat belonging to the Joint Task Force, (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, but the soldiers were active enough to repel them.|”