Four soldiers of ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ have reportedly drowned after their boat capsized on Monday while some others were rescued.
That is a major loss for the military operation after the boat mishap along the Brass Water Front in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
‘Operation Crocodile Smile’, though, is yet to be commissioned in Bayelsa State.
Also missing are service rifles belonging to the drowned soldiers.
Channels Television is reporting that the incident which occurred at about 10:00a.m. local time, has created panic among the newly deployed soldiers.
An indigene of the community who pleaded anonymity said that attempts by community youths and other soldiers to assist in a rescue operation failed due to high tides.
He said: “In recent times, we have been noticing increased movement of soldiers in our area.
“The boat that capsized was conveying a new batch of soldiers to the waterfront.
“I was going to dispose refuse at the waterfront and I saw uniformed soldiers struggling to rescue their colleagues in a capsized boat.”
“When the confusion subsided, four soldiers were found to be missing with their rifles and other military gear.
“Some others that were rescued had their rifle missing and struggling out of the water.”
Even though the help of local divers and youths were sought to assist in the search for the missing soldiers, the high tide of the water impeded the search.
The State Chairman of the Maritime Union, Comrade Lloyd Sese also confirmed the incident.
He said the union had received the report on the boat accident but do not have details on the numbers of casualty.
The authorities of the Joint Military Task force known as “Operation Delta Safe”, which has its operational headquarters in Yenagoa the capital of Bayelsa State, is yet to comment on the incident.
The Nigerian Army established the new military exercise in the Niger Delta on August 27.
It has a mandate to provide adequate security for residents as well as critical national economic assets in the region.
Militants’ activities have increased in the last few months in the region where Nigeria’s crude oil wealth is, with several attacks on oil installations in the area.
These activities have forced output to drop by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.56 million bpd.
A group that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.
It said few weeks ago that it has agreed to a ceasefire and was ready for negotiation with the Federal Government.
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