Nigerian army killed at least 15 members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militants and arrested 12 in an operation to secure oil and gas facilities in the region.
The operation followed three violent attacks on oil facilities by the NDA last week.
According to military sources, soldiers of the Nigerian Army on Sunday encountered the militants at Gulobokiri and Eweleso around Brass area in Bayelsa State.
The group is suspected to have been plotting to blow up Nigeria’s Agip Oil Company pipeline at Gulobokri.
The suspected vandals opened fire on the patrol team and the troops responded with superior firepower.
The military sources said several militants were killed in the encounter with others sustaining gunshot injuries.
A member of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) reportedly sustained a gunshot injury.
Soldiers also encountered three speed boats suspected to have been transporting militants to attack another critical oil infrastructure in the area.
The troops opened fire on them, killing most of them and injuring others.
Twelve suspected militants were arrested in the encounters.
The Army on Sunday paraded the 10 suspects in Benin, the Edo State capital.
Some 28 detonator cords, one pistol, two empty pistol magazines, 196 rounds of special ammunition, one round of nine-millimetre ammunition, a live cartridge and five daggers were recovered from the suspects.
Also recovered were 15 handheld radio sets, 18 phones, 203 SIM cards belonging to three major network providers, five swimsuits, two headlamps, a laptop, two Ipads and a camera.
The Commander of 4 Brigade of Nigeria Army, Gen Farouk Yahaya, who paraded the arrested militants said investigations revealed their true identity.
“The recent explosions carried out by the Niger Delta Avengers suggested that the suspects may not be unconnected to the group.
“Within the period under review, you can see that the Niger Delta Avengers have claimed virtually all acts of criminal activities against oil and gas and they continue threatening a shutdown of the whole sector.”
The acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, confirmed the developments.
The Nigeria Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas, had described militants attacking oil and other critical infrastructures as enemies of state who must be dealt with accordingly.
He spoke at the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) during an international maritime sea exercise organised as part of activities to celebrate the Nigerian Navy’s (NN) 60th anniversary.
The Navy on Sunday deployed four gun boats with special forces in the Niger Delta creeks to flush out Niger Delta Avengers and other threats to economic stability.