Military mourns 25 soldiers killed in Niger, hunts bandits

File: Bandits

By Solomon Odeniyi

The military high command revealed on Thursday that no fewer than three officers and 22 soldiers were killed during the Sunday bandits’ ambush on troops in Niger State.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Director,  Defence Media Operations,  Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, added that seven soldiers were wounded during the attack.

He explained that it was following the Sunday attack that the Nigerian Air Force deployed a helicopter to Niger State for the evacuation of the casualties.

The helicopter, however, crashed on Monday, with bandits taking responsibility for its downing.

The army spokesperson explained that the crashed aircraft had on board 14 previously killed soldiers, seven wounded soldiers, two pilots, and two crew members.

Buba said, “Our troops entered into an ambush in the general area of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. The ambush led to a firefight, which resulted in the deaths of three officers and 22 soldiers, while seven were wounded in action.

“As a result of this, there was a need for us to embark on a casualty operation, whereby the Air Force helicopter was dispatched.

“While that process was on and inbound to Kaduna, the helicopter crashed. In the crash were 14 of the previously killed in action personnel in that ambush, seven of the previously wounded in action personnel, two pilots of the helicopter and two crew members. “

The military, however, vowed “injurious consequences” for the bandits for attacking troops.

“One thing is for sure. No one or group would strike at troops without injurious consequences,” Buba said.

Also speaking, the Nigeria Air Force spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, refuted reports that the crashed plane was shot down by bandits.

He added that, at the moment, the cause of the crash remained unknown.

Gabkwet noted that there was nothing to be ashamed of in the accidents recorded during operations.

Gabkwet said, “We can’t say the cause of the crash for now. The Armed Forces have been open about their operations. Accidents in military operations are nothing any military organisation should be ashamed of.”

Gabkwet, who decried the attitude exhibited by some Nigerians over military mishaps, called on the citizens to support the military in its efforts to rid the country of criminal elements.

He said, “The citizens of other countries rally around their armed forces, but when we come back home, it is so unfortunate what we see some of our citizens do. It is as if there is a kind of joy we derive when we have this kind of mishap. What do we derive from that? Are we going to be happy if terrorists overrun our communities?”

Meanwhile, DHQ also said a total of 28 terrorists were killed and 114 criminals arrested by troops during operations across the country between August 7 and 17.

The arrested criminals include 92 terrorists, six gunrunners, three kidnappers, six collaborators, and seven suspected oil thieves.

Buba said,  “Troops also rescued 82 kidnapped hostages and denied oil thieves the sum of N876,451,800.00 only.”

He said, “The men and women of the armed forces will continue to put themselves in harm’s way, time and time again, to protect our great nation.

“Overall, troops recovered 108 weapons and 564 ammunition. The breakdown  as follows: 22 AK-47 rifles, one PKT gun, six pump-action guns, four Dane guns, one fabricated rifle, one Galil Ace rifle, one RGP bomb, one RPG tube, 44 hand grenades, 322 rounds of 7.62mm special, 63 rounds of 12.7mm ammo, 12 rounds of 5.6mm ammo, 33 AK-47 magazines, one empty case of 7.62mm special, and three empty magazines.”

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