An ambush by suspected bandits in Katsina State on Saturday left at least 16 soldiers and officers dead and 28 others wounded, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Troops of the Special Army Super Camp 4 were advancing on foot in Shimfida in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State at about 6:13 p.m. Saturday when the armed militants opened fire on them from a hilltop, military sources said.
The officers killed in the attack included a major, a captain and a lieutenant, military sources told PREMIUM TIMES. Two bandits were also injured in the exchanges, officials briefed on the matter said.
When contacted, army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, said he could neither confirm nor comment on the attack as he was hearing it for the first time.
Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari in northwestern Nigeria, has seen a spate of attacks by armed militants.
In Katsina State, over 2,000 people have been killed, 500 communities destroyed and over 33,000 people displaced, a 2020 report by the West Africa Network for Peace building said.
President Buhari, after scores of residents of a Katsina community blocked a highway to protest incessant attacks by armed bandits in May, promised a major military onslaught to rid the state of bandits and kidnappers.
“A major proactive operation by Special Forces, which details are being kept secret, is now in progress to replace the reactive strikes against insurgent camps,” presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement then.
“To give a full effect to the exercise, a planning team is already in the state selecting targets and making preparations for the execution of the “unprecedented” operation.”
Despite the statements, however, attacks on military camps and civilians have continued in the state since then.
However, troops of Special Army Super Camp 4, Faskari, operating under Exercise Sahel Sanity, have reported killing of dozens of the criminals.
A fortnight ago, the defence headquarters reported killing 46 bandits in an encounter at Yar Gamji town in the Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. This is even as it killed another six this week while also foiling attempts to loot livestock in Katsina and Zamfara states.