The Nigerian Army has lost a soldier while two Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps men were shot dead following a gun duel with suspected militants in Rivers State.
The security operatives were said to be trying to prevent militants from vandalizing an oil and gas facility in Gio community, Tai area of Rivers when they were shot.
Recall that a special task force of the Nigeria Police, early this year four suspects over alleged illegal bunkering in the Jeddo Community in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.
Confirming the incident, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, the spokesman of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria today, said, “The suspected militants attacked troops of 29 Battalion, 6 Division, with personnel of NSCDC in the early hours of Sunday.
“The team which was guarding Shell Petroleum Development Company Trans National Pipelines in Gio community prevented the militants from vandalising 24 and 28 of the TNP.
“Unfortunately, during the ensuing gunfire, one soldier and two personnel of NSCDC lost their lives and their weapons, one AK 47 and two G3 rifles, carted away by the assailants,” he said.
Iliyasu said the army later deployed more troops to the area with the intent of arresting the fleeing militants as well as other criminals in the community.
He said the cordon-and-search operation led to another gun duel with alleged cultists and an oil bunkering gang wanted by security agencies in the state.
The spokesman said Korobe Menele, a prime suspect in the killing of the security operatives, was shot dead in the gun duel with troops.
“At about 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, troops acting on reliable intelligence sighted a white Toyota Hilux that was without a number plate. The vehicle had four occupants.
“Efforts to stop the vehicle by troops at a checkpoint were ignored. However, troops chased the speeding vehicle and caught up with it around Kira Junction, along Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic.
“Sensing danger, the occupants opened fire at troops in a bid to escape. But, troops reacted and incapacitated the vehicle.
“Thereafter, they abandoned their vehicle and fled into the bush. However, one of the criminals was gunned down and was later identified as Korobe Menele, a notorious cultist and oil bunkering kingpin,” he said.
According to Iliyasu, troops were still on a hunt mission for the three other fleeing suspects who had sustained gunshot injuries during the exchange of gunfire with soldiers.
Items recovered from the vehicle as one K2 rifle, two magazines with 52 rounds of 5.56mm one number plate, KRK 95DP Rivers, and some personal effects, including documents.
Illiyasu disclosed that the body of the suspected cultist and recovered items had been handed over to NSCDC for further action.