An officer of the Nigerian Army, eight soldiers and two airmen of the Nigerian Air Force have been killed in attacks by gun runners and armed bandits in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages in Bosso Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by Colonel Sani K. Usman, acting Director of Army Public Relations. The statement added that one soldier remains missing, with two others gravely injured. The gunmen also burnt down four operational vehicles of the troops and destroyed two others. They similarly made away with four AK-47 rifles and one Fabrique Nationale (FN) rifle belonging to the deceased soldiers.
The attacks, explained the Army spokesperson, occurred while the troops were on lawful duty, contrary to reports stating otherwise.
“While approaching and deploying to carry out their lawful duty, the troops came under simultaneous and sporadic shootings in all the three locations,” explained Usman.
Following the incident, troops of 31 Artillery Brigade, 1 Division Nigerian Army, in conjunction with Nigeria Air Force detachment on Internal Security Operation MESA, responded with a quick cordon and search in the affected areas to recover suspected weapon cache and make arrests.
The action led to the killing of eight of the armed bandits and the arrest of 57 others. The troops also recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition. The recovered items include three AK-47 rifles, ten local AK-47 rifles, nine locally-made pistols, six revolver guns capable of firing 7.62mm (special ammunition) and 45 loaded Dane guns. Also recovered were 10 clubs and cudgels, 41 arrows, 18 bow cases, 122 cutlasses and machetes and 20 daggers.
In addition, the troops recovered 31 axes, 63 rounds of 7.62 (special) ammunition, 10 Bajaj motorcycles, assorted charms and amulets, two vehicles, 38 mobile telephone handsets, a wristwatch, five identity cards, passport photographs, cash in the sum of N23,870, five Japanese Yen and 35 different denominations of old Nigerian currency. Similarly seized from the bandits were 15 Catapults, eight torchlights, two gun powder bottles, four empty cases of ammunition, 41 cartridges, a military waist belt and a pair of military combat boots.
The Army spokesman explained that gun runners and armed bandits are chiefly responsible for the influx of illegal weapons into and general insecurity in some parts of the Federal Capital Territory and the Northwest geo-political zone of the country.
“The same gun runners have been confirmed to be the suppliers of arms to armed robbery gangs that were involved in series of armed robbery attacks along Minna-Bida Road and the general environment,” Mr. Usman said.
He added that the military has brought the situation under control and will ensure that all of those connected to it are arrested and prosecuted.