26 Nigeria troops killed in ambush, rescue helicopter crashes

KANO-At least 26 members of the Nigerian security forces were killed and eight wounded in an ambush by gunmen in central Nigeria late Monday night, two military sources told. Additionally, an air force spokesman said a helicop­ter rescuing the wounded crashed on Monday morning in the area, where the army is fighting criminal groups, without specifying whether the crew and passengers had survived. The two military of­ficers asked not to be identi­fied because they were not authorised to speak on the incident while military au­thorities were not available for comment. “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.

A second officer gave the same toll and said the ban­dits also suffered “heavy ca­sualties”. He also said that communication had been lost with an air force heli­copter dispatched to evacu­ate the casualties, with 11 of the dead and seven of the injured aboard. He said the helicopter was carrying 11 of the dead and seven of the wounded. He added that the aircraft had crashed because of gunfire from “bandits”. A Nigerian air force spokesman confirmed that its Mi-171 he­licopter while on a “casualty evacuation mission” crashed on Monday after 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 said efforts were un­der way to rescue those aboard and that preliminary investiga­tions had been opened into the cause of the crash. Barely a week goes by in Africa’s most popu­lous nation without attacks or kidnap­pings by criminals known as “ban­dits” in the north­west and centre of the country.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt