The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), on Thursday, announced that 36 soldiers and officers were killed by terrorists in Niger State.
Major General Edward Buba, Director Defence Media Operations, disclosed this known when he gave a breakdown of casualties in the ambush of troops in Niger State and an evacuation helicopter that crashed on August 14, 2023.
Asked about the cause of the helicopter crash, he restated that an investigation is still underway to determine the cause and urged citizens to be wary of propaganda by terrorists and remain patriotic.
Insurgents had ambushed troops in the Zungeru area of the state killing many of them.
Also, a Nigerian Air Force MI-171 Helicopter on a casualty evacuation mission crashed on Monday in the Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
Residents had said a search party found 30 bodies of soldiers and an unconfirmed number of policemen in a bush near the mining site Thursday morning.
“The death toll of Ajata – Aboki massacre of Shiroro L.G. Niger State have risen astronomically as at present, almost thirty soldiers have been discovered in the bush and confirmed dead,” Co-convener, Concerned Shiroro Youth of Niger State, Sani Kokki, had said in a statement.
“It is extremely sad and demoralising to lose such huge number of patriotic citizens and gallant officers at the war front. Speedily, we are being depopulated by marauding terrorists. More are still expected as search continues.”
The Director, Army Public Relations, Onyema Nwachukwu, had earlier said a yet-to-be-confirmed number of soldiers were killed by the bandits.
Recounting what transpired, he explained that troops deployed in Niger State responded to a distress call that a mining site in the Shiroro Local Government Area was under attack by bandits.
“Enroute to the location, the troops ran into an ambush staged by the criminal elements. Sadly, a number of personnel paid the supreme price in the fierce firefight that ensued,” Nwachukwu said
“Subsequently, the location has been reinforced and troops are on the trail of the criminals with some already neutralised. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division has moved to the location to take charge of the follow-on operations.”
Some of them were identified as Major Anara, Capt Abubakar Samido, Second Lieutenant S Ahuchaogu and A. Abubakar.