At least a hundred casualties have been recorded in a major sunset raid of Militants ghettos in the Niger delta area reports have said.
The raid had taken place in Delta State where three camps occupied by suspected rebels have been bombarded and overrun by Nigerian soldiers.
Militant sources claimed at lease a hundred death have been recorded in the sun set raid.
Nigeria’s military confirmed it had raided three camps run by suspected rebels in the southern Delta State on Wednesday but gave no confirmation of the dead or injury casualities.
“We have not taken a casualty count from the operation yet in the three camps,” Colonel Timothy Antigha, a spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force, told AFP.
“An unspecified number of people may have been killed during the operation, but anybody who was killed was a criminal because innocent people do not live in camps.”
He was reacting to a statement made earlier by a little known militant group, the Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF), which claimed that more than 100 people were killed during the raid on Anyakoromor community in the state.
“The casualties are mostly little children, aged parents and women,” the NDLF said in the press statement.
Antigha said that those that might have fallen victims of the raid were “criminals,” dismissing the claims about the identity of any victims as being intended “to whip up international sentiments.”
“The Chief of Defence Staff last month warned civilians living around the camps to relocate elsewhere. Those who did not leave cannot claim to be civilians because innocent civilians do not live in camps,” said Antigha.
Thousands of arms and ammunitions, including anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, dynamites and small guns were recovered from the three camps located between Ayakoromor and Okrika communities, he said.
Militants in the Niger Delta have attacked pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company employees and fought government troops since 2006.
Meanwhie,The man accused of masterminding the kidnapping of seven foreign oil workers in Nigeria’s restive southern delta faces criminal charges as security officials crackdown on kidnappers and abductors of foreigners and local oil workers in the region.
Otonyemie Kuna, 25, known in the creeks of the Niger Delta as “Obese,” allegedly orchestrated the kidnapping of seven expatriates working on offshore oil rigs for Exxon Mobil Corp. and London-based Afren PLC.
Authorities have described Kuna as a leader in the region’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, known by the acronym MEND.
Kuna was arraigned Monday at the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court with more than 60 others who faced various charges including kidnapping, armed robbery, murder and rape, said Rivers state police spokeswoman Rita Inoma-Abbey.
In recent weeks, there has been a crackdown on militant and criminal activity in the oil-rich southern delta by both the police and the military. However, MEND are threatening more mayhem as they assured to launch new attacks.
Militants in the Niger Delta have attacked pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company employees and fought government troops since 2006. The attacks cut drastically into crude production in Nigeria, an OPEC-member nation that is crucial to U.S. oil supplies. Production has risen back to 2.2 million barrels of oil a day, in part due to many militant leaders and fighters accepting a government amnesty deal offered last year.
The government has taken a hard line on militancy in the southern delta since the amnesty deal. Securing the delta remains vitally important to President Goodluck Jonathan who hails from the region, as he faces election next year.
“The Niger Delta campaign is now testing his ability to protect Nigeria,” said Thompson Ayodele, executive director of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis in Lagos. “If he fails his political opponents will capitalize on it, saying that he is a man who is not prepared for the job.”
Sources: AFP, AP