Journalism of Courage

Conflicting Reports on Number of Casualties in Boko Haram Ambush of Oil Workers

At least 69 people died in a Boko Haram ambush of an oil exploration team in Borno state, as three men kidnapped by the calamitous sect made a video appeal.

“So far the death toll stands at 69,” said an aid agency worker involved in the recovery of bodies after the attack in the Magumeri area of Borno state on Tuesday.

The worker, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said 19 soldiers, 33 civilian militia and 17 civilians were killed.

“The last body was recovered Friday in the bush in the Geidam district of neighbouring Yobe state, which is several kilometres from the scene of the ambush,” he told AFP.

“It shows the victim, who had gunshot wounds, died after trekking a long distance. There could be more such victims in the bush.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Army in a statement said it has recovered 21 more bodies.

The victims who were ambush by Boko Haram insurgents, also included staff members of the University of Maiduguri.

According to the Nigerian Army, aside the 21 more bodies of those on the team recovered, some persons were still missing.

“So far the search and rescue team has recovered additional bodies of 5 soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and 5 members of the exploration team,” the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, said in a statement.

He added that six members of the exploration team out of 12 that went out are still missing, while one of the NNPC staff returned to base alive.

Describing the ambush as “as unfortunate and highly regrettable”, Usman said his initial statement that all the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation workers abducted in the ambush had been rescued was wrong.

The statement comes a day after Boko Haram released a video in which three of those abducted during the ambush were shown appealing to the Federal Government to ensure their rescue.

Having come under heavy criticisms by the authorities of the University of Maiduguri over claims of the rescue of its staff on geological exploration in the Chad Basin, the Nigerian Army has admitted to misleading information on the incident, and has expressed regret over a statement it issued following the ambush and abduction of some oil workers in Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists.

The army had claimed it rescued the workers while the information showed that five lecturers of the university, soldiers and Civilian JTF were killed by the terrorists.



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