The 11 soldiers killed by bandits on March 20, in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, have been laid to rest on Thursday in Kaduna.
The soldiers were on operation `Ayem Akpatuma’ when they were ambushed and killed by the bandits.
The soldiers, all Privates, include Bamidele Adekunle, Christain Owhochukwu, Adam Muhammad, Sulaiman Mubarak, Bashir Sani, Usman Abubakar, Nafi’u Iliyasu, Safiyanu Ahmad, Alhassan Ibrahim and Adegunde Emmanuel, and all enlisted into the army in 2017
Also among those buried at the Commonwealth Cemetery, Kaduna was Hammed Olubode who enlisted in 2015.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai, lamented that the young soldiers died barely a year after committing themselves to serve the country.
“As we speak, most of them have not gone back to their relations to say, ‘this is the uniform I joined.’
“That is the sadness of this occasion, now they have paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence of the territorial integrity of this country.”
The army chief said that the deceased shed their blood to protect the nation from armed bandits and queried those questioning the loyalty of the military to the nation.
“How then can we tell them that they are aiding those who killed them, that today they have paid with their lives to aid those who killed them?
“If we are responsible enough to make a statement, we should not generalise,” Buratai said in a message through the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Muhammad.
He said the late soldiers were trained for six months and drafted for another training to add value to them, but lost their lives in the course of duty.
Buratai vowed that those who killed the soldiers must account for their crime.
“Their blood will not shed in vain; we, their colleagues who are still alive will continue where they stopped; their memory will still be with us.”
Buratai assured all Nigerians that the military will not relent until the peace of the country is guaranteed.
“We find ourselves as first respondents, we will not shy away from it, we will continue to do our duties diligently regardless of any shortcoming.”
He commiserated with the families of the deceased and assured them of the commitment of the Army to keep the country one.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai announced a donation of N500, 000 to each family of the 11 slain soldiers.
The governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Lawal Balarabe, presented cheque of N5.5 million to the GOC for onward transmission to the late soldiers’ families.(NAN)