The Military Operation known as Operation Crocodile Smile on Monday suffered major loss following a boat accident along the Brass Water Front in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa, leading to the death of four soldiers by drowning.
Also missing are service rifles belonging to the missing soldiers.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the incident,which occured at about 10am on Monday, created panic among newly deployed soldiers.
Though LEADERSHIP could not confirm the mission of the Soldiers in the area,it is not unconnected to the security operations against renewed militancy,sea piracy and search for those threatening to hoist the Niger Delta Republic flag.
An indigene of the Community simply identified as Etta, told leadership that attempts by community youths and other soldiers to assist in a rescue operation failed as the drowned soldiers could not be found.
According to Etta, “In recent times,we have been noticing increased movement of soldiers in our area. The boat that capsize was conveying a new batch of soldiers to the water front. I was going to dispose of refuse at the waterfront and I saw uniformed soldiers struggling to rescue their colleagues in a capsize boat.”
“When the confusion subsided, Four Soldiers were found to be missing with their rifles and other military gear. Some others that were rescued had their rifle missing and struggling out of the water. “
LEADERSHIP gathered that as at 2pm, the military authorities sought the help of local divers and Youths to assist in the search for the missing soldiers. One of the Youths confirmed that the high tide of the water is impeding the search for the missing soldiers.
The State Chairman of the Maritime Union, Comrade Lyyod Sese.who confirmed the incident,said the union had recieved the report on the boat incident,”but don’t have details on the numbers of casualty.”
Also confirming the incident,an official of Brass Local Government Council. who pleaded anonymity,confirmed the development, “but we thank God it was a natural incident.”
Attempts to get confirmation from the authorities of the Joint Military action known as Operation Delta Safe (ODS), failed as the Acting Coordinator of the Joint Media Centre, Lt. Cmdr Otuji failed to answer his calls.