In keeping with its threat to bring Nigeria’s crude oil production output to zero, The Niger Delta Avengers blew up two more pipelines in Bayelsa State.
They also attacked other installations in Ijere community,Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, where the group engaged Nigerian troops in a gun battle, killing two soldiers and four civilians.
The houseboat attacked was operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
This was just as a new militant group, the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, threatened to launch missiles to shut down Nigeria’s airspace and the country’s satellite system by Tuesday next week. It also ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to vacate the oil-rich region within 48 hours.
Eye witnesses at Ijere, said other than the six persons who were killed, some soldiers were also believed to be missing.
“Some militants suspected to be the Avengers attacked a houseboat stationed at pipeline junction at the back of Ijere community. The militants came through Omadina creek in the Itsekiri axis. During the exchange of gunfire, the houseboat sank while the army recorded casualties. The militants escaped through the Omadina community axis.”
Following the attack, it was gathered that two soldiers and four civilians died instantly and their corpses were taken to Central Hospital, Warri.
Sources disclosed that the civilian casualties – two females and two males – included a 26-year-old caterer identified as Tombra Iwoboibi, who was a support staff on the houseboat at the time of the incident.
A relation of one of the civilians, Mr. Richard Ebianyaidou, confirmed that his brother, Tombra, was a caterer on the houseboat.
He pleaded with the Federal Government to wade into the crisis in the riverine areas of the state, lamenting that the innocent people like his brother were losing their lives.
Confirming the Ijere incident later yesterday, the Nigerian Army said the houseboat stationed at Ijere junction was attacked by suspected armed militants.
According to a statement signed by the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Captain Jonah Unuakhalu, the suspected militants approached the houseboat at 5.50 pm in five speedboats mounted with 250 horsepower engines and disguised as normal commuters.
He said that during the deliberate attack, two soldiers were killed, one wounded, one soldier went missing while four civilian staff attached to the houseboat were shot dead.
The attack, he said, occurred when other members of the troops were on pipeline patrol.
“The brigade condemns the attack on our personnel carrying out their constitutional duties and other innocent staff. The brigade will not be deterred by such dastardly acts, but will remain resolute in discharging its constitutional duties,” he added.
Captain Unuakhalu stated that those who carried out the criminal acts would surely be sought, apprehended and brought to justice, and implored all law abiding citizens to go about their normal business.
After the attack in Ijere, the NDA laid claim to bombing two oil pipelines in Bayelsa State yesterday.
The group, in two Twitters posts, said the bombing was carried out at about 2am yesterday.
“At about 2.00 am today @NDAvengers blew up the Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba Crude Oil pipelines in Bayelsa State.
This is inline with our promise to all international oil companies and indigenous oil companies that Nigeria’s oil production will be zero.”
It identified the pipelines blown up as those between Ogboinbiri and Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba.