An ambush attack by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria against an oil exploration team has killed more than 50 people, according to sources, who said the death toll could rise further. The terrorists attacked a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the Magumeri area of northeastern state of Borno on Tuesday, sources said on Friday.
Initial reports from the army, which suggested that the ambush had been an abduction attempt, put the number of casualties at a mere ten. Reports later claimed that the abducted geologists and surveyors, who worked at the University of Maiduguri, had been rescued.
But details gradually emerged showing that the attack had been an ambush that killed many more people than originally reported. “The death toll keeps mounting,” one source involved in dealing with the aftermath of the attack told AFP. “Now we have more than 50 and more bodies are coming in.”
“It’s clear that the attack wasn’t for abduction. They (Boko Haram) attacked just to kill,” he added. Several others still remain missing, the sources said. Meanwhile, an aid agency worker in the area said some of the many victims killed in the attack had been burned to death.
“Eleven of them were badly burned in the attack. They were burned alive in their vehicle, which was stuck in a trench,” he added. “We buried them here because they couldn’t be taken to Maiduguri.” “Many more could be recovered because search and rescue teams are all over the place,” the worker said.
Eight years of militancy by Boko Haram has so far killed more than 20,000 people. Following the Tuesdays attack, the Federal Government said on Thursday that it would once again halt oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin in the northeast, where Nigeria has common borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
Both Chad and Niger are exploiting reserves on their side of the freshwater lake, but activities on the Nigerian side had to stop exploration on their side in November 2014 due to Boko Haram violence. In November last year, the Nigerian military permitted the resumption of exploration, according to Nigeria’s junior oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. He described the recent attack as “unfortunate.”