In two incidents, armed gangs in Nigeria killed at least 36 soldiers this week.
Nigeria has witnessed gang violence in the country's north since at least 2020. These gangs have armed themselves and frequently target villagers.
In one incident, the gangs ambushed the soldiers. In the second, the gangs shot down a helicopter.
Defence spokesman Major General Edward Buba said 22 soldiers were killed in the ambush and 14 were killed when the helicopter was shot down, reported AP.
Residents told AP that the helicopter was shot down by the armed gangs in Niger state's Wushishi district following clashes earlier in the week, reported AP.
The reported that the attack echoed warnings from analysts about the growing might of the gang members in Nigeria's northern region that has been hit hard by the movement.
Buba said soldiers were conducting an “offensive operation” on Monday when they were ambushed by the armed gangs.
“The ambush and the firefight resulted in the death of three officers, 22 soldiers," said Buba, adding that seven soldiers were wounded.
Buba added that an Air Force helicopter was then sent to evacuate the casualties but it crashed in another part of the state, resulting in the death of 14 additional military personnel including the pilots and crew members.
While the residents told AP that the helicopter was shot down, Buba said said the reason for the crash is under investigation.