No fewer than 10 military men, including a major and an unconfirmed number of local vigilantes, were allegedly killed during a firefight with bandits in Zungeru, Wushshi Local Government Area, Niger State.
Eight other soldiers reportedly sustained severe injuries in the bitter skirmish, in which they fought the bandits to a standstill and killed well over 30 of them.
The incident happened on Sunday, the Daily Post learned.
According to sources, the military personnel ran into an ambush on their way to respond to a distress call from the Akare community, where the bandits, numbering about 70 and reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons, were rustling cattle.
A source from the area told the Daily Post a total of 30 bandits were neutralized during the gun duel, and their bodies were abandoned in the forest while those injured were taken away.
The development, the source explained, has forced residents of the area to desert their homes and seek refuge in Zungeru.
The Daily Post also learned that the bodies of the dead soldiers were first deposited at the Federal Medical Centre Zungeru on Sunday and later ferried out of the center to an unidentified location.
Efforts were made to reach the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Internal Security, Alh. Tareek Abdulrahim, for confirmation, but he did not respond to calls put to him.
Similarly, an officer at 31 Artillery Brigade in Minna, when contacted, refused to comment and instead directed the Daily Post to the Director of Communication of the Nigeria Army.