Army says killing of soldiers communally orchestrated but won’t retaliate

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The Nigerian Army says the killing of its personnel in Delta state was “communally orchestrated” by members of the Okuoma community.

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Last Thursday, 17 military personnel — comprising a lieutenant ​colonel, two majors, one captain, and 13 soldiers — were killed while on a “peacekeeping mission” in Okuoma, Bomadi LGA of Delta.

The Delta state and federal governments had condemned the incident while promising that perpetrators would face the wrath of the law.

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Some hours after the incident, several houses in the community were reportedly on fire.

In a statement on Monday, Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, said the Delta community resorted to “media propaganda and shenanigans” instead of “engaging in a positive effort to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime”.

Nwachukwu said the falsehood being peddled is to “whip up sentiments and sway the public to endorse” the murder of the military personnel.

The army spokesperson said no degree of propaganda would “arm-twist the narrative”, adding that the community is “complicit” in the killing.

“These were troops committed to peace and security of lives and property of citizens and non-citizens alike in the Niger Delta Region, murdered in cold blood by an armed youth gang of Okuoma Community in the most gruesome, heartless, and cruel manner, and went ahead to sacrilegiously debase their remains by ripping out their hearts by the very people they were there to protect,” the statement reads.

“Regrettably, the community complicit in this dastardly act has resorted to media propaganda and shenanigans, rather than engage in a positive effort to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

“This is again a clear indication that the murder of the troops was a communally orchestrated attack against legitimate forces.

“The falsehood being peddled by these criminals and their cohorts to whip up sentiments and sway the public to cover up, endorse, or support the outrageous criminal acts of their armed youth gang.”

Nwachukwu said “there will be no reprisal on the part of the troops” while urging residents to continue with their legal activities.

However, residents of the community has said that troops have laid siege to the area and have prevented people from going in and coming out.

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