- Thousands of residents in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria have fled their homes late Tuesday as fears of reprisals from the Nigerian Army intensified after the Joint Task Force (JTF) began the manhunt for the killers of the two naval ratings in an attack on Monday local media has reported.
The killings came at a time when President Umaru Yar’Adua had offered to grant amnesty to militants who have agreed to lay down their arms and be integrated into the security forces.
The terror has haunted the state despite the JTF’s pledge yesterday that it would not retaliate against the killers, but would rather beef up security to apprehend them.
Residents in the state capital Yenagoa have reportedly sighted a cloud of thick black smoke in the general direction of Nembe and Southern Ijaw , raising fears that the crisis could spread to other areas.
Two militant leaders, Kitikata and Fara Dagogo, were alleged to have led the attack, probably in retaliation for the earlier sinking of militants’ boats at Igbomotoru in Southern Ijaw local government.
Although there was no confirmation of an attack on the Nembe on Tuesday, the Coordinator of the JTF Media Campaign Centre, Lieutenant Colonel Rabe Abubakar, assured law abiding citizens of their safety.
Lt-Col Abubakar added that the JTF would recover the four boats that had been captured by the militants in the Nembe attack on Monday, saying JFT was on the trail of the militants that attacked its troops on Easter Monday.
The unrest has forced oil giants such as Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron to move all but their most essential foreign staff out of the region, while the drop in output will further reduced Nigeria's foreign earnings.
Armed groups in the Delta such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), that have claimed to be fighting for a greater share of the regions resources, have accused the government of neglecting the region despite being the main source of the country’s wealth.
The country has also been under pressure as oil workers threatened to go on strike complaining of lack of security in the region and the government’s proposed deregulation of all the petroleum products.
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