Nigeria's military said it freed
four more foreign hostages Sunday from Niger Delta militants during an
operation against camps of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger
Human Rights groups say the weekend operation, the military's biggest
show of force in months has displaced thousands of villagers.
The militants reportedly
said they took revenge by destroying two oil and gas pipelines in the Niger
Rabe Abubakar, spokesman for the Nigerian military's Joint Task Force in the
Niger Delta, told VOA the Nigerian military will not
sit idly by while militants continue to attack oil installations and innocent civilians.
Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta for the past few days has embarked on a
search and rescue operation. The purpose of that operation is to push out the
criminals who attacked us on Wednesday and Friday. Right now the operation is
ongoing," he said.
Abubakar said the military was able to free a total of 17 Nigerian and foreign
hostages during the operation.
the course of that operation, we were able to rescue nine Filipinos and four
Nigerians, and today four Ukrainians. So all together, we rescued 13
expatriates and then four Nigerians, and these four expatriates they are all
Ukrainians and they all in good condition. And as I'm speaking to you, they all
in Warri (Delta State's capital)," Abubakar said.
described as propaganda militants' claim that they destroying two oil and gas pipelines
in the Niger Delta as a revenge for the military's attacks on their positions.
you know we are not in any way at war with these our people. They are our
brothers and sisters. The simplest thing we are doing is to rid the region of
criminals and criminalities. The other side which they are claiming to have
blown up a pipeline, it could be one of their own propaganda," Abubakar said.
said the militants are becoming irrelevant because the communities in the
region have come to realize that the militants do not have their interest at
are no longer relevant. People now know the kind of people they are. That's why
they have gone out calling JTF (Joint Task Force) all sorts of names that we
are killing innocent children and women which is not true; that they are
burning or blowing up pipelines. All these things are propaganda by them," he
Abubakar played down concerns by some human rights groups that the military's use of
helicopters and gunboats has displaced thousands.
said the military is following its mandate which is to protect the citizens and
create an enabling environment.
see whatever we have done is for the interest of our country. No responsible
military will go against its own people. So what we are doing is to free the
region from a lot of criminals who have putting a lot of mayhem on their own
people they are claiming to have been protecting. So all this thing we are
doing is within our mandate because one requirement of our mandate is to create
an enabling environment for economic activity to thrive. So we are not doing
anything that is outside our mandate," he said.
said if the Nigerian military can perform well against Sierra Leone and
Liberian rebels during those countries' civil wars, he saw no reason why the
military could not flush out the Niger Delta militants.