Warri — Suspected militants in Bomadi, headquarters of Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, have made a nuisance of the recently lunched 'Operation Crocodile Smile II' with the kidnap of four Britons at Enukoroma community.
The victims were said to have been kidnapped in the community last Friday to protest the heavy presence of soldiers drafted from 222 Battalion for the Operation Crocodile Smiles II.
Security sources told THISDAY yesterday when the news filtered into Warri that the kidnapped Britons were carrying out humanitarian services in the community before their kidnap.
"The Britons were carrying out free medical services for the people of the community because there is no single primary health care centre in the area and surrounding communities.
"They have been doing this exercise for sometime without informing the security agencies about their presence in the community so it made it difficult for soldiers to offer protection for them," an undercover agent said.
He said the kidnappers came in a speed boat at about 3p.m. when most of the residents had gone for fishing with a handful of old women and children left in the community.
A community elder, Chief Theo Fakama, contacted yesterday, confirmed that the Britons, including a couple, were offering "free medical care and religious activities" in the Burutu area before they were abducted.
He lamented the effect of the kidnap of the victims, noting that many of the indigenes of the riverine community had been battling with various ailments before the arrival of the Britons.
"We are sad by this development. These people brought succour to our people. See the way they are being paid back by these hoodlums. They have been around for over three years now and have considered themselves part of us. Will they stay here when they are freed?: He asked.
Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Aniamaka, confirmed the incident, saying the Britons were kidnapped on October 13 this year.
"The victims are of British nationality, two of whom are a couple, and have been rendering humanitarian services in the area for a while but unfortunately, they didn't let the authorities know of their presence in the area all this while.
"There is a militant group that has been operating in the area and we believe they are the ones behind the abduction.
"Immediately the militants struck, they whisked the victims to the interior regions of the creek where we believe they are being held for the past five days," he said.
Coordinator of the Media Department of the Joint Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe, Major Ibrahim Abdullai, confirmed the kidnap but said troops were on the trail of the hoodlums.
"We are already on their trail. We will definitely get them soon and rescue the victims. There is no need to panic.
Delta State Commissioner of Police Zanna Ibrahim also confirmed that anti-kidnapping team was already on the trail of the suspects.
He suggested the abduction could be linked to the recent military operation against violent crimes, which has seen an increase in troops in the area.