- West Africa
Nigeria: Delta village emptied as military attacks rebels
They have gone on self exile to avoid soldiers’ rage
Following an attack on Naval officers in the Niger Delta Creek by rebel militia, that left two soldiers dead and many more injured, the Nigeria Joint Task Force has waged what is described as a merciless rebel-hunt on the creek. Residents in the coastal enclave, especially male youths, are worried for their dear lives.
The attacked soldiers were guarding a Shell facility in the deep Nembe swamp of Bayelsa state. At least 20 people, including two soldiers, were reportedly killed during the Easter day massacre. The militants also made away with four speed boats belonging to the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company.
The Military authorities have deployed three gunboats in the Creek to intensify the hunt for militants; each of the gunboats had about ten heavily armed military personnel on board.
Residents in the area had to flee their homes in the wake of the thunderous gunshots during the rebel attack on the Shell plant and reports claim that they are yet to return to their creek due to fear of an impending attack of vengeance by the Nigerian Military forces in the area. And as some of the rebels live in the Nembe creek area, young males have all gone into self exile to avoid becoming targets of the soldiers’ rage. Even fishermen in the area have abandoned their most assured source of livlihood as nobody would want to be caught in any possible crossfire in the volatile creek.
Col. Rabe Abubakar, coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Center, described the rebels’ offensive as a retaliatory attack on the earlier sinking of six rebel speedboats which led to their occupants being drowned. However, he said the JTF had only re-doubled efforts at capturing the militants responsible for the killings. He went ahead to calm the fears of the people in the Nembe community; urging them to go about their businesses without fear of molestation.