Gunmen ambushed the Nigerian security forces in central Nigeria on Sunday night, resulting in the deaths of at least 26 members and leaving eight wounded, as confirmed by two military sources to media.
Furthermore, an air force spokesperson stated that a helicopter engaged in rescuing the wounded crashed on Monday morning in the same area, where the army is contending with criminal groups. However, there was no mention of whether the crew and passengers had survived.
The two military personnel, preferring to remain anonymous due to lacking authorization, refrained from commenting on the incident. Meanwhile, military authorities were unavailable for any statements.
“We lost 23 soldiers, including three officers, and three Civilians JTF (vigilantes) in the encounter while eight soldiers were injured,” said the first source, following “a serious fight” along the Zungeru-Tegina highway.
Another officer corroborated the same casualty count and noted that the armed bandits had also experienced “significant losses.” Additionally, he mentioned that communication had been severed with an air force helicopter assigned to transport the casualties.
Among the deceased, 11 were aboard the helicopter along with seven of the injured.
A spokesperson from the Nigerian air force verified that their Mi-171 helicopter, engaged in a “casualty evacuation mission,” crashed on Monday following take-off from Zungeru.
“The aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School enroute for Kaduna but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba Village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State,” spokesman Edward Gabkwet said in a statement.
He stated that efforts were currently in progress to rescue the individuals on board, and initial inquiries into the crash’s cause had been initiated.
Scarcely a week passes in Africa’s most populous nation without incidents of attacks or kidnappings carried out by criminal entities referred to as “bandits,” primarily in the northwest and central regions of the country.
These gangs, infamous for their involvement in large-scale school abductions, operate from camps situated within an expansive forest that spans across the states of Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Katsina.
For years, regions in northwest and central Nigeria have been plagued by the activities of bandits who carry out raids on isolated villages, killing and kidnapping residents for ransom.
Experts highlight that the persistence of violence is attributed to a lack of accountability, inadequate security measures, and limited government presence, allowing a conducive environment for such incidents to thrive.