Helicopter crash and ambush kill at least 36 Nigerian soldiers

The military announced on Thursday that a total of 36 Nigerian soldiers lost their lives in two separate assaults while engaged in operations against armed gangs in the northern-central state of Niger.

For the past two years, heavily armed groups have caused widespread chaos throughout northwest Nigeria, abducting thousands, causing the deaths of hundreds, and rendering road travel and farming unsafe in certain regions.

According to Major-General Edward Buba, the defense spokesperson, the casualties encompass three officers and 22 soldiers.

Seven soldiers also sustained injuries during an ambush near Kundu village in the Shiroro local government area of Niger state on August 14th.

An Air Force Mi-171 helicopter, sent for casualty evacuation, crashed near Chukuba village in Shiroro on Monday, resulting in further fatalities.

Although Buba did not confirm the crash’s cause, two military insiders informed media that the helicopter likely went down due to gunfire from gang members.

“The helicopter crashed with 14 of the earlier killed in action personnel, seven of the earlier wounded in action personnel, two pilots and two crew members,” Buba said in a statement.

“Operations are ongoing to recover the bodies and investigate the cause of the air crash which will be communicated,” he said.

Nigeria’s security forces have been confronted by assaults from gangs, commonly known as bandits, which have posed a complex challenge.

Security forces are already stretched thin as they grapple with a secessionist group’s violence in the east, a lethal conflict between herders and farmers in the central states, and a 13-year-long insurgency against Islamist factions like Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northern regions.

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