An operation by the Nigerian Joint Task force (JTF) to enforce peace and break down rebel activity in the oil-rich Niger Delta will continue “until the desired level of security and peace is achieved in the Niger Delta and the region is rid of criminal and illegal actions by the so-called militants”, a top Nigerian official said after JFT rescued a total of 19 hostages including Nigerians and foreigners.
Nigerian Joint Task force (JTF) enforcing peace and breaking down rebel activity in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have attacked rebel hideouts and rescued Nigerian and foreign captives. A total of 19 hostages including two French, two Americans, two Indonesians, and a Canadian were freed.
“We’ve got confirmed reports that, yes, all 19 have been reported freed. It was a JTF operation,” AP quoted a security source as saying.
Nigeria’s main militant group the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had claimed responsibility for kidnapping 14 of the hostages.
The victims were captured during a recent raid on oil facilities in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, there was no claim of whether ransoms were paid for any of the hostages.
Fighting between rebel groups and the Nigerian military may have resumed following a statement released by MEND on Tuesday, which warned of a “major operation” and claimed one of its camps had come under military fire on Monday.
In response, the Nigerian authorities confirmed operations were underway to hunt down the rebel militias and kidnappers.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Antigha, the operation would continue “until the desired level of security and peace is achieved in the Niger Delta and the region is rid of criminal and illegal actions by the so-called militants.”
France’s foreign minister earlier confirmed that the two French nationals were freed.
According to reports, those released were believed taken in three separate incidents achieved in the Niger Delta and the region is rid of criminal and illegal actions by the so-called militants.”
The Niger Delta continues to experience unrest as rebel groups claiming to fight for a fairer distribution of oil revenue, engage in criminal activities that have slashed oil production in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government subsequently offered an amnesty deal to the militants last year. But some analysts believe the amnesty has failed to address underlying issues of poverty and unemployment in the Niger Delta.
Observers feared that militant who surrendered their weapons in exchange for stipends would eventually be replaced by others, they warned.
However, the amnesty was credited with greatly reducing unrest in the region and oil production has rebounded to an estimated 2.2 million barrels per day, but there has been a new round of attacks in recent months.
France’s foreign minister earlier confirmed the release of its two French nationals.
“Michele Alliot-Marie is pleased with the release of the two Frenchmen who had been taken hostage, along with five other people, on an oil platform in Nigeria overnight November 7-8,” a statement read.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon also welcomed the news.
“We would like to thank everyone who worked to ensure a safe and peaceful resolution to this incident,” Cannon was quoted.