Sixteen Nigerian soldiers killed in community clashes in Delta state

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA, March 16 (Reuters) - Sixteen Nigerian Army soldiers were surrounded by youths and killed earlier this week after they attempted to quell community clashes in the oil-producing southern Delta state, an army spokesperson said on Saturday.

The troops from 181 Amphibious Battalion had responded to the conflict in the Okuoma community when they were killed on Thursday, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau said in a statement.

"The reinforcement team led by the commanding officer was also attacked, leading to the death of the commanding officer, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers," Gusau said.

The chief of defence has directed an immediate investigation and the arrest of those involved, Gusau said.

"So far, a few arrests have been made while steps (are) in place to unravel the motive behind the attack," he added.

There are frequent clashes, sometimes deadly ones, over land or over compensation for oil spills by energy companies in many Delta state communities.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh, writing MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

((camillus.eboh@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: camillus.eboh.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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