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'Suspected pirates' kill two soldiers in Rivers: army

18 March 2016, 06:30

Port Harcourt - The military on Thursday said suspected pirates killed two soldiers in a gun battle in Rivers State, where tensions are high before re-run elections to be held this weekend.

The shooting happened at about 11 am as troops in a speedboat were patrolling the creeks in Abonnema, west of Port Harcourt.

Army spokesman Captain Eli Lazarus in Port Harcourt described the clash as a "fierce encounter with a group of unknown gunmen suspected to be sea pirates".

"Our men displayed extraordinary gallantry. Unfortunately, an officer and a soldier who sustained various degrees of injury during the encounter lost their lives," he added in a statement.

Also read: Rivers rerun: Court restrains Military from deploying soldiers

It was not immediately clear whether the gunmen also suffered casualties.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) blamed the shooting on "thugs" from the All Progressives Congress (APC) who were "in the process of hijacking election materials", it wrote on Twitter.

Rivers state has long been a flashpoint for political violence and tight security has been ordered for Saturday's polls, including movement restrictions and a ban on speedboats.

The re-run for seats in the Rivers state assembly and the national assembly in Abuja comes after court rulings on challenges to the initial results.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said "violence in any form will no longer be tolerated before, during or after elections", calling political unrest "primitive, barbaric and unacceptable".



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