The riverside town of Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State was Monday night thrown into confusion following the invasion of the community by operatives of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Restore Hope allegedly in pursuit of suspected kidnappers and sea pirates.
Seven buildings were reportedly razed down during the raid by the security operatives.It was learnt that the Monday night assault on Azuzuama is now causing panic among community folks in neighbouring Lobia and other communities in the Southern Ijaw council identified as hideout for suspected kidnappers and sea pirates.
Among the buildings razed, it was learnt were that of Jackson, aka Virus, the alleged mastermind of the killing of 12 policemen a fortnight ago at Lobia II, that of his uncle and others.
The policemen were on their way to Azuzuama to provide security at the wake the late mother of ex militant leader, Kile Selky Toughedi aka Young Shall Grow when they were ambushed and killed by gunmen who allegedly fell out with the former.
Azuzuama community, it was learnt, has been deserted with most of the natives taking refuge in the mangrove swamp.
According to sources from Azuzuama that the heavily armed soldiers who invaded the community were backed by two gunboats stationed at the extremes of the community.
It was also learnt that a military helicopter was hovering around the community during the raid ostensibly to give the troops aerial cover and pin down the miscreants from escaping.
But the Joint Task Force, through its Spokesman Lt. Col Onyema Nwachukwu said the raid was a routine exercise targeted at riding the region of miscreants and dismissed claims that its operatives invaded the community.
The JTF said its operation was to dismantle criminal hideouts where kidnappers and sea robbers hibernate and four of such places were destroyed at Azuzuama.
His words, "Painstaking investigations by our operatives revealed that kidnappers, sea robbers and other criminals have clandestinely developed hideouts in some parts of the creeks along Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, from where they launch attacks on unsuspecting victims going about their legitimate businesses in the water ways.
Given our mandate to rid the Niger Delta of criminality, we are spurred by this unwholesome development to commence today, a clean up operation of criminal hideouts where kidnappers and sea robbers hibernate.
Our troops have successfully clamped down 4 criminal hideouts at Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government."
He enjoined all law abiding citizens to stay clear of such criminal hideouts and to partner with our operatives in ridding the region of criminals.