22 soldiers confirmed killed in Delta community

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No fewer than 22 soldiers have been confirmed killed by armed men and suspected mercenaries of Okuoma community in Ughelli South council area of Delta state.

The troops, drawn from the 181 Amphibious Batallion, Bomadi, were reportedly on a rescue mission to the community when they were ambushed by their assailants on Thursday.

They had embarked on a rescue mission to Okuoma community to free a kidnapped youth, Mr Anthony Aboh, an indigene of neighbouring Okoloba community in Bomadi Local Government Area, who was abducted over the lingering land dispute between the communities.

The military men were taken unawares while on their way back to the waterfront after a deadlocked round-table discussion at Okuoma community hall over the kidnapped youth, a source claimed.

“We were coming back to our boats after the unfruitful discussion to release the kidnapped victim of Okoloba community.

“Suddenly, there were rains of bullets coming from all directions and some of us managed to escape.

“Many people were killed during the ambush, including a former honourable member from Okoloba community, who reported the matter to the JTF but the commander and other officers were held hostage and taken to an unknown destination towards the creek opposite the community,” the source stated.

The source revealed that 22 military men had been confirmed dead at Okuoma community. Among them were one Lt Colonel, two Majors, one Captain and eighteen soldiers.

Some the military personnel killed were identified as Maj Shafa, Maj Obi, Capt Zakari and Lt. Col A. H. Ali.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Gwabin Musa has directed the immediate investigation and arrest of those involved in the heinous crime.

A statement by the acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier Gen. Tukur Gusau, Saturday, disclosed this, adding that the incident had been reported to the Delta State Government.

Parts of the statement read: “The troops of 181 Amphibious Batallion, Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State While on peace mission to OkUOMA community in BOMADI LGA of Delta State were surrounded by some community youths and killed on Thursday, 14 March, 2024.

“The unfortunate incident occurred when the troops responded to a distress call after the communal crisis between the Okuama and Okoloba communities both in Delta State.

“The reinforcement team led by the Commanding officer was also attacked, leading to the death of the Commanding officer, two Majors, one Captain and 12 Soldiers,” it said.

Reiterating the military’s commitment to “maintaining peace and security in the country,” the statement said “a few arrests have been made while steps in place to unravel the motive behind the attack.”

The lifeless body of the kidnapped Aboh had been recovered floating on River Forcados.

Another source from Okoloba community said, “We found the lifeless body of Mr Anthony Aboh floating on River Forcados near Ayakoromo community, and like other victims, he was blindfolded with hands tied behind his back”.

Efforts to get comments from Okuoma community proved unsuccessful as of press time. (The Nation)

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