From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Four soldiers attached to the Operation Delta Safe participating in the military operation codenamed ‘Operation Crocodile Smile were killed yesterday after their boat capsized along the Brass Water Front in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
Security sources said the service rifles belonging to the soldiers have also been declared missing.
The incident, which occurred at about 10am created panic among newly deployed soldiers as there was pandemonium at the Brass jetty.
An indigene of the community, Etta Daniel, who confirmed the incident said attempts by community youths and other soldiers to assist in a rescue operation failed as the drowned soldiers could not be found.
“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 off refuse at the waterfront when 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 were struggling out of the water,” he said.
By 2pm yesterday the military authorities sought the help of local divers and youths to assist in the search f. One of the youths simply identified as Berezi, however, said the high tide was impeding the search for the missing soldiers.
The state Chairman of the Maritime Union, Comrade Lloyd Sese confirmed that the union received the report on the boat incident, but added “I don’t have details on the numbers of casualty.”
Also, an official of Brass Local Government Council who pleaded anonymity confirmed the development. “But we thank God it was a natural incident,” he said.
As press time, the authorities of Operation Delta Safe (ODS), were yet to make a statement as the acting coordinator of the Joint Media Centre, Lt. Cmdr Thomas Etui was said to be in a meeting.
The soldiers were deployed to the area as part of the security operations launched against renewed militancy and sea piracy.
There had been anxiety in the region over threat by militants to declare Niger Delta Republic on October 1.
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