The military operation in the Niger Delta known as Operation Crocodile Smile, yesterday suffered a major loss, following a boat mishap along the Brass water front in Brass local government area of Bayelsa, leading to the death of four soldiers.
Also missing are service rifles belonging to the missing soldiers.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the incident, which occured at about 10am yesterday, created panic among newly deployed soldiers.
Though the mission of the soldiers in the area could not be confirmed,it may not be unconnected with the security operations against renewed militancy, sea piracy and search for Niger Delta terrorists.
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 capsized 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 capsized boat.”
“When the confusion subsided, four soldiers were found to be missing with their rifles and other military gear. Some others that were rescued also lost their rifles as they struggled 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 was impeding the search for the missing soldiers, but two bodies were recovered around 5pm.
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.”