The Nigerian Army has confirmed the ambush of its troops deployed in the Shiroro general area of Niger State, Northcentral Nigeria, admitting that “a number of personnel paid the supreme price in fierce firefight that ensued.”
Army Spokesperson, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, said in a statement that “on Wednesday 29 June 2022, troops of the Nigerian Army (NA) deployed in Shiroro general area responded to a distress call of bandits attack on people operating a mining site. Enroute the location, the troops ran into an ambush staged by the criminal elements. Sadly, a number of personnel paid the supreme price in fierce firefight that ensued.
“Subsequently, the location has been reinforced and troops are on the trail of the criminals with some already neutralized. The GOC 1 Division has moved to the location to take charge of the follow on operations.
“The NA notes that some clips of the incident have surfaced online and wish to encourage well meaning Nigerians to exercise some restraint in posting images of such occurrence, mindful that our brothers and sisters who may have lost their breadwinners deserve to be properly notified and not to get such information via the media. We mention this, mindful of the inalienable rights of citizens to use the social media which is respected.
“It is also necessary to clarify that activities of the criminals was not on any critical national asset or infrastructure. Furthermore, the NA calls on all Nigerians to continue to support the efforts of their military personnel who continue to confront the enemies of our dear nation.”
At least 22 soldiers and seven police operatives were among the many people reportedly killed during the Wednesday attacks by terrorists in Niger and Taraba States.
15 soldiers were killed in Niger and seven in Taraba in an ambush while properties were also destroyed.
Government officials in the two states have condemned the attacks.
With tens of thousands of military personnel involved in Internal Security Operations (ISOs) in almost all the 36 States of the federation, exposing them to attacks by miscreants, thousands of them have been killed since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency broke, while other criminal activities being called by different names have also taken a toll on the Nigerian troops.
Of recent, terrorists loyal to ISWAP and Ansaru have infested many communities in Niger and other States in North Central and North West, years after destroying many others in North East.
The terrorists in Niger killed 15 soldiers and seven policemen during an ambush.
It was learnt that the soldiers belonging to the 45 Battalion, Bida were on a rescue mission when the terrorists, acting on prior information laid siege on the way.
A group of the terrorists had earlier attacked a mining site being managed by Chinese nationals at Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government Area of the State.
During the attack, seven mobile policemen guarding the site and some soldiers at a nearby Erena community were among those killed.
Multiple sources said the attackers numbering about 300 rode on motorcycles, carrying sophisticated weapons and told the villagers not to panic because they did not come for them.
Daily Trust gathered that a villager who was asked by the bandits to lead them to the site but declined was shot dead.
Sources said a planned reinforcement by the troops of the 45 battalion, Bida stationed at Unguwan Maji community in Erena Ward was truncated when their vehicle got stuck on the way due to the deplorable terrain.
A top security source said 15 soldiers were killed and eight others declared missing after the bandits ambushed them while responding to a distress call.
“The battalion in Bida was specifically created to handle the deteriorating security situation around Shiroro and Zungero axis,” he said.
“Th is is to provide timely response and to also guard national assets like electricity installations and military equipment,” he said.
Another source said the troops ambushed had been conducting mopping up operations around the area and when they got information on the attack on a mining site, they promptly responded but were ambushed midway.
“There are countless terrorists’ cells along the area and this is making response difficult sometimes because you cannot rule out complicity of informants,” he said.
Residents said they counted 30 bodies of soldiers after the onslaught against the 15 given by one of the security sources.
The soldiers were said to have engaged the terrorists for several hours from 4pm till the early hours of yesterday. A security source in Niger said the terrorists appeared to be foreigners.
“They are believed to be Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters who were not initially domiciled in the area and who are not also Nigerians. Their long hair, pierced nose and mode of operation point to that fact,” the source said.