GUNMEN KILL LT. COL, SIX OTHER SECURITY MEN
By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa - Four policemen and three military personnel among them a Lieutenant Colonel were yesterday, killed by unidentified gunmen along the waterways of Nembe and Brass local government council areas of Bayelsa State.
While four policemen were reportedly killed at the Marine Police Checkpoint in the Nembe Creek at about 7am, the attack on the lieutenant colonel and the two Naval ratings occurred at the Okpoama River junction at about 10am on their way to Ogbia waterside.
Militants in action
Eyewitnesses said the police and military personnel were ambushed by the yet to be identified gunmen suspected to be pirates in separate attacks.
The gunmen were said to have approached the marine police checkpoint and the two speedboats conveying the military personnel in two speed boats and opened fire on them.
Although the police authorities confirmed that four of their men were killed by unidentified gunmen around the Nembe creek, a source from the area told Vanguard that the death toll could be more as the policemen were caught off guard by the gunmen who shot them at close range.
The state Commissioner of Police, Chris Olakpe, who was thrown into mourning, could not speak with newsmen on the incident, but the Command Spokesman, Mr. Emokpae Eguavoen (ASP) confirmed the incident.
He said four corpses from the attacked team of Marine Policemen have so far been recovered.
On the killing of the military men, the State Chairman of the Maritime Workers Union, Comrade Lloyd Sese and a government source who pleaded anonymity confirmed the incident and said it occurred at about 10am yesterday.
The government source said, 'only one military officer and two Naval ratings were attacked with other passengers in a boat at Okpoama junction of the Brass-Ogbia route of the river. We can not confirm if they were killed.'
In his reaction, the Media Coordinator of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col. Timothy Antigha said although the JTF is waiting for a full report on the attack, it remained 'unconfirmed'.
'There are unconfirmed reports of an armed attack on military personnel by yet to be identified gunmen. The attack reportedly took place at about 10 am this morning(yesterday, while the personnel were enroute Ogbia from Brass. Details are still sketchy for now. New development will be communicated in due course,' Lt Col Antigha said.
The attack on the police and military personnel came on the heels of the multiple dynamite attacks allegedly launched by some youths on some spots along the Opolo and Biogbolo areas of the state on the same stretch of road with the headquarters of the Joint Task Force.
But the state government dismissed the alleged dynamite attacks, in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, saying that the reported dynamite explosion was not correct.
He said, 'the story is not only malicious but an outright falsehood. The fact is that there was no explosion. What was misconstrued as explosion were mere knock-outs thrown around the streets by merry-making youths and Okada-riders who were celebrating the defeat of the English national team by their Dutch counterpart in an international friendly match.'
According to him: 'It, therefore, beats the imagination of government that an innocuous act of our youths was hyped to mean bomb explosion by enemies of Bayelsa State. It is clear that the motive of the mischief was to cause fear in the minds of Bayelsans and create a negative perception in the minds of prospective investors that Bayelsa State is unsafe for investments and tourism.
'Government wishes to assure Bayelsans and all investors that no amount of propaganda and mischief by enemies of progress will distract the administration of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson from delivering on his restoration agenda to the good people of Bayelsa State and Ijaw nation.
'Government therefore calls on Bayelsans to ignore the explosion falsehood and go about their lawful businesses without any fear of molestation as government has put in place security measures to secure lives and property across the state. Governor Dickson and the various security outfits like the JTF, police and State Security Service are working assiduously to ensure that Bayelsa State is at peace', he said.