Following the incessant killings by pirates on the waterways of the Niger Delta, the police in Bayelsa State yesterday engaged pirates in a gun battle which has left many pirates dead.
Although police did not disclosed the casualty figures on both sides, THISDAY gathered that at least five pirates were killed during the attack on a police contingent who were on guard duties at a Gbarain oil rig in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The pirates were said to have stormed the rig operating for the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Lone Star Drilling Company about 2a.m. yesterday. The Southern Ijaw area is the hotbed of piracy and militancy in the region.
THISDAY also gathered that the suspected pirates approached the Shell facility and open fire on the unsuspecting policemen, but the alert policemen who had taken strategic positions repelled the attempt, killing five of the attackers. Two policemen were said to have sustained minor injuries.
When contacted, the state Police Commissioner, Hilary Opara, confirmed the incident.
Opara said the pirates had attacked the rig at Gbarain with the intention of severing the chain used to secure the gunboat in order to remove the weapons in it.
The commissioner said the incident took place in the wee hours of yesterday, stressing that the suspected pirates who came in a speedboat opened fire on his men.
He said the attack was repelled by the policemen after displaying superior gun power.
“The pirates came with electric filing and a generator. Their aim of coming with those tools was to severe the chain used for securing the gunboat to the rig.
“Unfortunately, the policemen attached to the rig were there. After serious exchange of fire, the pirates abandoned the rig and came back again around 6 a.m., probably thinking our men had gone. When they sighted our men, they ran back and some swam in the river to escape,” he said.