Armed bandits numbering about 30 on Sunday morning were said to have killed four soldiers and injured three others in an ambush in Sarkin Pawa in Munya Local Government Area of Niger State.
The four soldiers included a captain who led the soldiers in the operation, a staff sergeant and two corporals. Some civilians were also said to have been killed in the attack.
The soldiers were said to have responded to a distress call from Gwar community in Munya local government that armed bandits had invaded the community going from house-to-house and shooting sporadically.
The soldiers, on receiving the distress call, mobilised from their base in Zazzaga community and headed to Gwar accompanied by some armed policemen in an armored vehicle.
It was learnt that before their arrival, the bandits were said to have escaped, but the soldiers decided to pursue them not knowing that they (bandits) had laid an ambush.
The bandits were said to have opened fire and killed the captain on the spot while the remaining soldiers engaged them in a gun battle which lasted for almost one hour.
Three other soldiers were killed and their two Hilux vans burnt by the bandits who absconded with the soldiers Machine Gun (MG) riffle.
A source close to the community said the soldiers were overpowered by the bandits who numbered about 30 when they invaded the community on about 10 motorcycles.
The chairman of Munya Local Government, Alhaji Mohammed Garba Dazz, who confirmed the incident said the bandits held the community hostage for several hours before the arrival of the soldiers.
“The bodies of the soldiers have been brought to the Sarkin Pawa police station and I am just from there. That is all I can tell you for now”, he said.
Salihu Bakari, a retired military officer condemned the killing, describing it as “heinous and a call to action.”
According to him, “The killing of the soldiers in Niger State shows the level of vulnerability of our troops. There is no reason bandits should hold a section of Nigeria hostage.
“But the bigger picture is that the bandits are inching closer to the centre… Niger is not faraway from the centre. They held sway in far North West but they should not be allowed to continue expanding their frontiers towards the FCT.
“Government must be decisive in ending killings not only in the North East or North West but in all parts of the country by making security agencies battle ready,” he said