At least 26 Nigerian troops were killed and another 8 were wounded in an ambush that culminated in the crash of a rescue helicopter after an attempted evacuation in central Nigeria, military sources told AFP.
An air force spokesman said the rescue helicopter, which was carrying at least 11 dead and 7 wounded, crashed on Monday morning.
“The aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School en route for Kaduna but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba Village in the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State,” spokesman Edward Gabkwet said in a statement.
The Niger state is a state located in western Nigeria, not to be confused with the neighboring country, Niger.
The two military officers asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to speak on the incident, while military authorities were unavailable for comment.
“We lost 23 soldiers, including three officers, and three Civilians JTF (a Multinational Task Force) in the encounter, while eight soldiers were injured,” said one officer after security forces engaged in a firefight along the Zungeru-Tegina highway.
Another officer confirmed the deaths, claiming the bandits also suffered “heavy losses.”