A yet-to-be-confirmed number of soldiers have been killed by bandits during an exchange of fire in Niger State, Nigerian Army authorities said on Thursday.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja confirmed that the incident occurred on Wednesday.
Recounting what transpired, he explained that troops deployed in Niger State responded to a distress call that a mining site in 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,” said Nwachukwu who did not give the specific number of security operatives killed by the outlaws.
“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.”
The attack on the mining site located at Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro LGA.
Sources said upon arrival at the scene, the gunmen who were wielding AK-47 rifles opened fire on the people at the site, killing several persons in the process.
They identified those killed as seven policemen probably attached to the mining site as guards and six other civilians, while an unconfirmed number of persons, including four Chinese nationals, were missing.
Stressing that soldiers nearby moved to repel the assailants, the sources said several of them were killed by the bandits with nearly 30 bodies recovered from the bush.
While the army authorities did not confirm this account, they cautioned social media users against sharing clips of the incident online.
“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,” Nwachukwu stated.
“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 the activities of the criminals were 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.”