Seven Nigerian soldiers were on Monday gruesomely murdered by bandits during a rescue operation in a forest along Mararaba-Udege road in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The soldiers, who were killed in an ambush by the bandits, were from the 177 Guards Battalion, Shitu Alao Barracks, Keffi, Nasarawa State.
According to a reliable source, who does not want to be named for security reasons, the slain soldiers were part of a team of 13 soldiers led into the forest by Felix Kura, a captain.
The soldiers’ mission, the source claimed, was to rescue some residents of the state who were abducted by bandits and taken into the forest.
Out of the 14 military men, seven including Kura; Yakubu Bati, a sergeant; Kefas Iliya, a lance corporal, and four others whose identity could not be confirmed as of the time of filing this report, lost their lives.
“As soon as they ran into the ambush and they realised they were being overpowered, Kura was said to have told his colleagues including his “cover” to escape,” the source said.
The authorities of the 177 Guards battalion have informed the families of the slain soldiers of their fate and signal has since been sent to the headquarters.
Multiple sources also said one of the abductees was a nursing mother whose child was abandoned while the mother was taken.
“Another man was also killed during the operation by the bandits. So no one even knew how many were the victims but only 14 officers were drafted to the scene,” another source said.
The command however became worried when communication with the troop was lost and their whereabouts unknown. The command subsequently sent out about 100 soldiers on a search and rescue mission of the platoon.
“That was how seven bodies were found including the team lead,” another source added.
But the spokesperson to the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, a brigadier general, denied knowledge of the development.
An elder brother to the late Kura, Fabian Benjamin, however, confirmed the incident to PremiumTimes while expressing bitterness and disappointment at the death of his brother,
Benjamin said the late officer was just decorated as a captain in August, 2020.
“My brother read Linguistics at the Benue State University and graduated in 2009. He served in Oyo State in 2010 and joined the Nigerian Army in 2012. He loved the job and was very passionate about it. Some of his commandants even when he was posted to the North East confirmed his bravery and loyalty. I am very depressed right now,” .
He said his late brother’s remains will be interred on Tuesday in his home state, Benue.