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Attack on Soldiers, Abduction of Women, Spark Security Concerns in Nigeria

Borno state, Nigeria

A series of violent events in recent weeks has fueled a growing concern about Nigeria's internal security.

In the first encounter — in central Niger state — local gang members ambushed troops responding to an attack in the village of Zungeru, injuring seven and killing 25 — 22 of them soldiers.

Later that day, a military helicopter deployed to evacuate injured soldiers crashed, killing every passenger on board, including injured soldiers and crew members. On Friday, the Nigerian army held mass burial for the military personnel who died.

On Tuesday, Islamic militants abducted dozens of women on their way to fetch firewood in northeast Borno state. The militants are demanding about 60 dollars each to free the women. The 49 women have since been released, according to Agence France-Presse.

Security analyst Mike Ejiofor said terrorists are trying to make a bold statement.

And security analyst Senator Iroegbu said the new administration of President Bola Tinubu has yet to develop a coherent strategy to address security problems.

"There's no new policy drive on how to deal with internal security challenges," said Iroegbu. "With this development, it's a reminder to the current administration that the prevailing insecurity before they took over power is still there."

Nigeria's government spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, did not respond to calls for comment.

Nigeria has battled a range of security challenges for years, including the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and gangs that kidnap people for ransom.

Tinubu's recent decision to retire all service chiefs and appoint new ones was applauded and seen as a sign of progress.

Nigeria is pivotal in the struggle to restore political order in Niger following last month's coup d'etat that removed democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum.

Security analyst Senator Iroegbu said authorities are shifting their focus.

"Prior to this development, the attention of the current administration is being occupied by the fallout of fuel subsidy removal and the issue of economic security," said Iroegbu. "It has shifted attention from the spate of insecurity to the issue of survival and economic reality, then the issue of coup in Niger."

Former president Mohammadu Buhari vowed to end insecurity in Nigeria but was largely criticized for failing to do so.

Families of the slain soldiers and women kidnapped by militants hope the new government addresses the problem for good.