Nigerian pirates kill 'four soldiers and a policeman'

Nigerian police in Borno state pose prior to a patrol in Maiduguri on June 5, 2013 (AFP Photo/Quentin Leboucher)

Yenagoa (Nigeria) (AFP) - Suspected pirates killed four soldiers and a policeman in an attack on a military base in Nembe town in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, a police spokesman said Saturday.

"Four speedboats loaded with unknown gunmen, suspected to be sea pirates, attacked the Joint Task Force (JTF) base at Nembe Water front," spokesman Asinim Butswat said of the assault, which occurred on Friday.

"They killed four soldiers and one policeman. The gunmen carted away two HP (high power) guns and other arms from the base," he said.

The JTF was set up to fight rampant theft of crude oil and piracy in southern Bayelsa state.

Efforts are underway to "recover the arms and arrest the culprits," Butswat added.

Military authorities in the capital Abuja on confirmed the attack by "suspected oil bunkerers" (thieves) but were silent on the death toll.

"The Defence Headquarters has confirmed the incident that happened in our location at Nembe Jetty, near Ogolomabiri Community in Bayelsa State, where suspected oil bunkerers attacked our location."

The incident is being investigated and the JTF is making efforts to arrest the attackers, military spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar said.

"The military will deal decisively with anybody or group involved in this and similar acts of attacks or sabotage on the nation’s economy," Abubakar stated.

Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region is notorious for attacks by oil thieves and kidnapping of mostly oil workers for ransom.

Last month, a local monarch, the King of Tombia, was kidnapped by gunmen and is yet to be freed.