The soldiers were on a mission to stop the conflict between two communities in the Bomadi region.

Sixteen Nigerian soldiers have been killed on a mission to halt clashes between two communities in the southern state of Delta, an army spokesperson said.

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

“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,” he said.

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

“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, over land or compensation for oil spills by energy companies in many Delta state communities.

Moreover, conflict has also continued to roil Nigeria’s northern and central regions, where armed groups are active and government forces have been accused of committing abuses.

Earlier this year, at least 30 people were killed in renewed violence in Nigeria’s central Plateau State, where clashes between Muslim herders and Christian farming communities have erupted for years.

The state lies in the Middle Belt, a region seen as the dividing line between Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. Inter-communal violence has been common in the region, which is home to dozens of ethnic minorities, such as the Mwaghavul.

Clashes in the region and the northwest are rooted in community tensions over land between nomadic herders and Indigenous farmers, but exacerbated by the effects of climate change and population rise in the region.

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