Some Zambia Army soldiers who took part in the Special Forces military drill for public exhibition in Mbala are nursing serious injuries after being hit by explosives, News Diggers has learnt.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that some personnel died during the operation which was witnessed by President Edgar Lungu on Saturday, while several other survivors were flown to Lusaka’s Maina Soko Military Hospital, where they were admitted.

Confirming the incident, Zambia Army Public Relations Director Col Luswepo Sinyinza, however, dismissed reports that some soldiers died, saying those who were injured in the operation had all recovered and were back in camp.

“Yes there was an incident here but it is a normal thing, you know shrapnels (fragments of a bomb), as you are firing live rounds, there are those debris which come out, so a few were injured. Not the way you have written it that someone has died, no. Just a few were injured from the shrapnels. You know, it was on a rocky surface so you expect those shrapnels to fly off and a few were injured, but they are okay,” Col Sinyinza said.

Asked if the injured were in stable condition, Col Sinyinza said, “they are okay, they are back in the camp.”

But a source from the military who witnessed the event and sought anonymity said some soldiers died because the Air Force personnel that was involved in the operation had not sufficiently rehearsed for the drill, and ended up firing missiles on targets too close to the ground forces from the Zambia Army.

“They have killed people and now the boss (President Edgar Lungu) is even in the Copperbelt. I don’t think he is even aware of this. Those are students, they are not experienced pilots who can go and start demonstrating such operations to the public. I saw ZNBC covered it but there was nothing about those who have died from the missiles from the aircraft. Now they want to keep it quiet? No, people have died. People need to face the consequences of forcing operations with pilots who are not ready to do such things,” said the source.

Another source explained that other soldiers who were injured were marines whose boat was hit by debris from the air to land missiles dropped by the Air Force.

“The operation used live ammunition, so there are two solders who were hit by stray bullets, I think somewhere on the shoulder. He did not die but he was badly injured. Another incident involved squadron of marines. The shrapnels hit them and one who was badly injured had to be rushed to the hospital in Lusaka,” said the source.