Police officers who were fired at in Taraba State on Tuesday were mistaken for kidnappers by soldiers, Army spokesperson Sagir Musa said.
He said; Troops attached to 93 Battalion, Takum, pursued a white bus conveying 10 persons they thought were kidnappers, not knowing that the bus was mostly occupied by police officers from the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Abuja, on a covert mission to arrest a kidnap suspect, identified as Alhaji Hamisu.
Police spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, on Wednesday said one Police Inspector, two Sergeants and a civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack.
Soldiers shot the policemen despite sufficient proof that they were on legitimate duty. They subsequently released the suspect, who is now on the run, he said in a statement.
The Nigerian Army faulted a communication gap as the cause of the attack, which the police described as ‘bizarre,’ blaming the police for not properly coordinating the raid and causing confusion.
“The suspected kidnappers numbering about ten (10) and driving in a white bus with Reg No LAGOS MUS 564 EU refused to stop when they were halted by troops at three consecutive checkpoints which prompted a hot pursuit of the fleeing suspects by the troops.
It was in this process that the suspected kidnappers. who were obviously armed, opened fire at the troops sporadically thus prompting them to return fire,” Musa said.
“In the resultant fire fight, four (4) suspects were shot and died on the spot while four (4) others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds and 2 others are reportedly missing and it was only after this avoidable outcome that one of the wounded suspects disclosed the fact that they were indeed policemen dispatched from Nigerian Police, Force Headquarters, Abuja for a covert assignment.
The Army and Police have agreed to conduct a joint investigation into the incident, Mr Musa said. Michael Ogbizi, the deputy inspector-general of police in charge of criminal investigations, will lead a joint panel.