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NAF destroys 13 ‘illegal refining sites’ in Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says its officers under the Operation Delta Safe have destroyed thirteen “illegal” refining sites in Rivers, Bayelsa and Imo states.

In a statement on Sunday, Edward Gabkwet, NAF spokesperson, said the illegal sites were destroyed between June 18 and 22.

“The Air Component of Operation Delta Safe has destroyed 13 illegal refining sites and 7 Cotonou boats as well as dispersed 5 x J-5 buses attempting to siphon suspected crude oil products from surface tanks,” the statement reads.

“Some of the illegal sites were discovered near Imo River on 18 June 2024 with 7 overhead tanks which were subsequently destroyed while several suspected bunkers were seen fleeing.

“Air strikes were also extended to Wilcourt in Rivers State on 19 June 2024 after an illegal site and canoe filled with illegally refined products as well as some gunboats, were seen.

“Similarly, following intelligence of some illegal refining sites located about 6km from Tunu in Bayelsa State, the aircrew proceeded to the location to identify and destroy the site — a task carried out with the utmost precision.

“Another significant strike undertaken by the air component was carried out on 22 June 2024, when the crew spotted 5 x J5 buses, probably reconfigured into mini tankers at the bank of Imo River attempting to siphon illegally refined products.

“Amazed at this change of tactics by these economic saboteurs, the crew did not hesitate to immediately destroy the illegal refining sites feeding the buses.

“The J5 buses were later seen dispersed with some taking cover under trees to avoid detection.”

The NAF spokesperson said the air strikes against “economic saboteurs and oil thieves” have continued to record the expected outcomes due to improved intelligence, enhanced air-to-ground coordination, and agility and resilience of personnel.

Gabkwet said the operations will be sustained until the activities of oil thieves are reduced to the barest minimum.

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