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Soldiers, militants in bloody clash

Posted by By Daniel Alabrah and Philip Nwosu on 2008/09/14 | Views: 3404 |

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Soldiers, militants in bloody clash


A bloody confrontation broke out yesterday between the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), following an offensive by soldiers on the camps of the militia group in Rivers State.

• MEND warns Amaechi, oil firms
• We’ve no hand in attack – Rivers govt

A bloody confrontation broke out yesterday between the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), following an offensive by soldiers on the camps of the militia group in Rivers State.

No fewer than seven militants were said to have died and scores injured in the conflict.
The army, however, said it was a minor conflict and that it suffered no casualty.
Spokesman of the JTF, Col Sagir Musa, told Sunday Sun in a telephone chat that, "it was a mid-morning encounter between the militants and our men on routine marine patrol.

"While they were on patrol, some unidentified persons fired shots at them and our soldiers returned fire. No casualty was recorded on our side but we learnt the militants suffered heavy casualty."
Unconfirmed reports say there is also high civilian casualty figure and that two communities - Elem Tombia and Ogboma - were razed to the ground by the soldiers.

But MEND claimed in an online statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, that heavily armed soldiers launched aerial and marine offensive on its positions and neighboring communities in the state with helicopter gun ships, jet fighters and over 20 gun boats and landing craft.
It warned that the confrontation might just be the beginning of a "a full-scale oil war," and blamed President Umaru Yar’Adua and the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for what it described as "genocide on the defenceless civilians, who are bearing the brunt of indiscriminate air force bombs."
The militia group also warned that by the attack, Amaechi was putting his family and community at the risk of reprisals with dire consequences.

It issued a 24-hour quit notice to oil firms to move their workers out "because a hurricane is about to sweep through oil installations in the entire Niger Delta region."
The militants said the 27 oil workers they rescued yesterday from the pirates that kidnapped them from the MT Blue Ocean and taken to the camp under attack were trapped in the fighting.
"The workers are made up of five expatriates from Britain, South Africa and Ukraine, while the remaining 22 are Nigerians…Some of the oil workers are injured but are being treated with the same local herbs we are using in treating our wounded. The Red Cross or doctors from the MSF should be allowed passage to attend to them. (The) injuries are mainly from high caliber machine guns and shrapnel," the group stated.

Rivers State government, however, denied knowledge of the confrontation, saying it had no hand in the raid by the JTF on the militants’ camps.
It, however, said it was fully in support of whatever would bring law and order to the state and the Niger Delta.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr Ogbonna Nwuke, who spoke to Sunday Sun on telephone on Saturday evening, said: "We are not aware of any confrontation. You know whatever concerns the JTF is a purely security matter and Governor Amaechi does not give orders to the soldiers. He is however in support of whatever would bring law and order to the state and our region."
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