Pirates seize police gunboat, abduct four police officers, six oil workers in Bayelsa

The rising spate of insecurity in Bayelsa state heightened Friday as gunmen, suspected to be sea pirates, carried out attacks on barges and boats along the Nembe waterways in Bayelsa, abducting six oil workers and four policemen.

The pirates also dispossessed the policemen of a gunboat and made away with the arms onboard.

The attacks, according to witnesses, occurred separately on Friday causing fear and tension amongst coastal communities and boat operators as the security operatives appeared helpless and defeated.

When contacted for comments, the spokesperson for Bayelsa police command, Alex Akhigbe, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said he was on official duty in Abuja and unaware of developments in Bayelsa.

The state Police Commissioner, Valentine Ntomchukwu, claimed he was busy in a meeting.

Witnesses however said the Police gunboat was escorting a barge operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) when it was attacked.

The sea pirates, who operated on a speedboat, had ambushed the gunboat and suddenly opened fire on the police officers.

The pirates overpowered the police and later took control of the gunboat between Santa Barbara and Nembe waterways in Bayelsa.

A source in the Joint Task Force said the Agip barge and its occupants were not the target but the gunboat.

The gunboat driver was among those kidnapped after the gunmen hijacked the boat.
The gunboat and the three police escorts and the boat operator were also kidnapped.

“The barge and its occupants escaped because the gunboat was the target of the pirates.

“This incident happened along Santa Barbara and Nembe route at about 1.30pm. The pirates were after the gunboat and the police arms,” the security source said

Also in a separate incident, six personnel aboard a boat belonging to an oil services company, Icon Xearex, were abducted at Oluasiri in Nembe axis of Bayelsa on Friday.

“Six persons were abducted from the boat belonging to that company, the source said.


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