Yenagoa — The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta thursday said they had carried out a successful operation to free two soldiers abducted by suspected militants in the Niger Delta region.
It wasn't clear if the rescued military personnel were kidnapped for ransom or a negotiating chip for the heavily armed warlords, but it was gathered that some four other persons were forcibly set free when the military stumbled on the hideout of the hoodlums.
During the operation, some weapons were also recovered in a shrine occupied by the suspects while several human skulls hung on a tree at the shrine, the scene of the gunfight, were discovered by the soldiers.
The affected soldiers, the military said, were leaving the banking hall in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Rivers State, when they were reportedly seized by the armed gang who took them deep into the forests.
Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre, Igbogene, Bayelsa State, Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, told newsmen yesterday that all the victims were undergoing treatment in an undisclosed hospital in the state.
"On the September 18, 2017, at about 7:30a.m, headquarters Operation Delta Safe received a report of kidnap of two soldiers while on transit for banking services in ONELGA, Rivers State.
"Troops were immediately mobilized, swung into action and discovered a militant camp with several shrines in a forest at Obiozimini Community in Rivers State," the JTF spokesman said.
He added that an exchange of gunfire between the rescue team and the militants led to heavy casualties on the side of the suspects, but did not indicate the number.
"On approach, the suspected militants\cultists opened fire on the troops who subsequently engaged them with superior fire power leading to casualties on the side of suspected kidnappers while others escaped with various degrees of gunshot wounds into an adjoining forest.
"The operation successfully rescued the two abducted personnel. Further search of the campsite led to the rescue of four more civilians that were earlier kidnapped, including a lady," he noted.
According to the military, three pump action guns, eight empty cartridges, human skulls and some bones were some of the items found in the camp which was also being used as a shrine.
"The camp and shrines were subsequently destroyed while the rescued victims were evacuated to one of our medical facilities in the area.
"In order to arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime, troops are trailing the criminals who fled into the forest.
"Members of the public are kindly requested to provide any useful information to identify these criminals and their whereabouts in order to face justice," the JTF noted.