Army speaks on soldiers killed during ambush in Niger state, says ‘they were courageous’
By Abu-Bakarr Jalloh – August 15, 2023 0
The Nigerian Army says soldiers who died during a firefight with bandits in Kundu, a community near Zungeru in Wushishi LGA of Niger state, “were courageous till the end”.
Onyema Nwachuckwu, the army spokesperson, who did not specify the number of casualties from the attack, confirmed the killing of some of the troops on Tuesday.
“I can confirm that there was an incident in Wushishi LGA of Niger state. Our gallant patriots paid the supreme price when they ran into an ambush staged by insurgents,” he said.
“They were courageous till the end. They stood their ground and defended our great country with their lives.”
“The focus now is how to console and bring respite to those they left behind. Sadly the incident occurred while the chief of army staff is on an operational tour of the north-west operations theatre for on-the-spot assessment and reinvigoration of ongoing operations.”
Nwachukwu added that Toaheed Lagbaja, chief of army staff, has headed to the affected location to encourage the troops.
A Nigerian Air Force helicopter on an evacuation mission crashed in Niger state on Monday.
Edward Gabkwet, the spokesperson of NAF, who announced the incident in a statement on Monday, said the helicopter crashed at about 1 pm near Chukuba village in Shiroro LGA of the state.
Gabkwet said the aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School en route to Kaduna, but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba village.
The crashed aircraft was believed to be taking the injured troops from the scene of the attack to a military hospital in Kaduna for medical attention.
There were reports on Monday that suspected bandits launched attacks on the Kundu community on Sunday during which there were casualties, including some soldiers and members of the local vigilante group.
Speaking with our correspondent on Tuesday, Mohammed Kabir, a resident of Zungeru, said the bandits started attacking Kundu and neighbouring communities on Sunday.
Kabir said a large number of troops mobilised to repel the terrorists were killed, adding that many residents were also kidnapped during the invasion.
“There were serious casualties, the whole Kundu community near Zungeru were displaced. Many residents ran away. Kundu is in Wushishi LGA of Niger state,” he said.
“The bandits usually pass through the Kundu axis as there is a border linking Rafi to Wushishi LGA.
“Yesterday, there was serious tension in that area. Honestly, as of yesterday, there are about 20 soldiers who died when they engaged the bandits.
“About 12 of the soldiers died instantly, while eight others who sustained injuries, those who were taken to the hospital later died. Many residents were also abducted. They (bandits) took away their cows, and the villagers fled the community.
“The bandits have passed the community, that place is their route. They usually pass through that route almost every time. They will come from Rafi LGA and cross over to Kundu, Akare, and other villages to Rafi.
“About six to five days back, after the bandits invaded, the troops mobilised there but were unfortunately ambushed. The attack started on Sunday at about 5 pm till night.