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Nigeria: Six soldiers killed in an ambush by bandits

Nigeria: Six soldiers killed in an ambush by bandits

On Sunday evening, the Nigerian Army announced that six Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ambush in central Nigeria, where the army is fighting criminal gangs.

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For many years in northwest and central Nigeria, bandits have been making inroads into isolated villages, where they kill and kidnap residents for ransom and burn homes after looting them.

These gangs, known for mass kidnappings of school children, live in camps located in a vast forest extending between Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina states.

The army said in a statement that soldiers who were leading an operation against bandits in the Shiroro area, one of their strongholds, were ambushed on Friday in Niger State, and six soldiers were killed in the ensuing firefight.

General Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman for the Nigerian army, said that “two officers and four soldiers were killed,” vowing “revenge” against the army.

The statement added that two other soldiers were also injured in the ambush and were taken to the hospital, adding that “the forces responded to the ambush valiantly, eliminated a number of terrorists, and seized some of their equipment.”

The bandits, who carry out kidnappings for ransom, are motivated by greed, but they are increasingly collaborating with Boko Haram jihadists and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) who have been carrying out a 15-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. The country, despite successive governments' promises to put an end to security chaos.

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Shiroro is an area known to Dogu Gide, a bandit leader, who has allied himself with jihadists linked to the Islamic State.

Last August, the Dojo Gedi faction killed 23 soldiers and three local militiamen in an ambush targeting a security convoy on a road in Niger State, according to military sources.

A military helicopter sent to evacuate victims crashed, killing all on board, and bandits claimed to have shot it down.