By Ovie Okpare
Gunmen suspected to be sea pirate have reportedly attacked an oil barge around the Lutegbene River in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, killing no fewer than four soldiers and two civilians on board.
It was gathered that the incident occurred at about 5pm on Sunday when the vessel was said to be heading to Delta State from Rivers State.
Unconfirmed reports also had it that other persons on board also sustained severe injuries during the attack.
Sources from the community confirmed the incident on Monday to our correspondent but alleged that following the killing, military personnel allegedly invaded Lutegbene community where they demanded the community to produce the pirates.
The community sources told our correspondent further that the military personnel returned to the community on Monday where they allegedly set some buildings ablaze.
This attack is coming a month after unknown gunmen suspected to be pirates reportedly killed four naval ratings at Agge, a coastal community boundary Bayelsa and Delta States.
NIGER DELTA TODAY Online could not independently verified the community claims at the time of filing this report.
The incident was first rumoured to have occurred in the Delta end of the Ekeremor River until it was further discovered that the incident took place in Bayelsa.
“It was not an incident of boat that capsized and it didn’t happened in Delta. The incident happened in Lutegbene in Ekeremor River of Bayelsa State. Some unknown gunmen attacked a barge belonging to an oil firm with military escort.
“The vessel was going to Delta State from Port Harcourt when the pirates highlighted from the creeks and attacked them. Four military personnel and two civilians were killed.
“The news that is coming to me now indicates that soldiers are currebtly in Lutegbene community. The attack happened about three kilometers away from the community. The river is an open river for commercial activities. The area is the major route for those travelling to Rivers and Delta States.
“The incident happened around 5pm on Sunday”, one of the sources told our correspondent on Monday evening.
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When contacted on the incident, Spokesman for the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe, Eromosele Unuakhalu, told NIGER DELTA TODAY Online that he had just handed over as spokesman of the task force.
Unuakhalu, who told this medium that he will make the number of his successor available for enquiries, however, did not get back with the number or picked further calls place to his telephone line by our correspondent.
When also contacted, the spokesman of the Bayelsa State Police Command, Mr Asinim Butswat, said he was not aware of the incident.
He, however, directed our correspondent to contact the military and JTF for confirmation.
However, a senior military source in Delta State Police Command confirmed the incident on Monday to our correspondent, saying that the attack happened on Sunday in Bayelsa State, and not Delta State as was being rumoured.