From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
As part of efforts to rid Bayelsa State of crude oil thieves and militants, the Nigerian Army, over the weekend, carried out an operation targeted at suspected oil thieves and militants, at Igbomotoru and Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
The presence of the military, however, caused panic as many people in the area were afraid of the military occupation.
Igbomotoru is the base of a deadly illegal bunkering merchant who has been fingered in some brutal deaths of some prominent persons opposed to the regime of crude oil theft in the area.
Investigations also revealed that a detachment of troops, as part of the operation, combed the crude oil pipeline route along the Obama flow station, Kolo creeks and Brass areas of the State.
A senior military intelligence officer stated that the operation was targeted at clamping down on some known militants involved in setting up illegal bunkering camps in communities of Southern Ijaw and some other illegal activities.
He said the troops missed a known militant by the whiskers as he and his boys escaped through the creeks as informants sighting the gunboats must have alerted him. However, a shrine believed to be where oaths are administered for youths recruited for the illegal crude oil thieves was destroyed.
Items recovered by the Nigerian Army include military camouflage, mobile phones and military boots, among other items.
Phones of the spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield and 16 Brigade, Yenagoa, rang out as the duo did not pick to confirm the incident. A source in Igbomotoru, who confirmed that the situation in the community was calm, said the troops have left the community and its environs.