More than 50 people, including civilians and members of the military, were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on an oil exploration team in northeast Nigeria earlier this week, multiple sources have told Agence France Presse.
Tuesday’s attack in the Magumeri area of Borno state on a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was the militants’ deadliest in months.
The army said on Wednesday that 10 people were killed in the attack.
But one source involved in dealing with the aftermath told AFP on Thursday: “The death toll keeps mounting. 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.”
An aid agency worker in Magumeri, which is 50 kilometers northwest of Maiduguri, said 47 bodies were recovered from the bush as of Wednesday evening.
“Eleven of them were badly burned in the attack. They were burned alive in their vehicle,” he added.
“This evening (Thursday), six more bodies were recovered, including one soldier, and many more could be recovered because search and rescue teams are all over the place.”
A medical source at the Nigerian Army 7th Division headquarters at Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri said: “So far we have 18 dead soldiers. Ten were brought yesterday and eight more today.”
At the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), a medical worker said: “We have 19 bodies at the moment of civilians.
“Fifteen of them were vigilantes (civilian militia) and four were staff from the university. They have been taken for burial.”
The head of the academic staff union at the University of Maiduguri, Dani Mamman, confirmed they had received four bodies and said two of them were academics.
“We got the impression our staff on the team were rescued because that was what the military spokesman said yesterday,” he added.
“But we were shocked when we were given four dead bodies. This means it wasn’t a rescue.
“We still have other staff that are yet to be accounted for.”
In a statement, Nigeria’s junior oil minister and the former head of the NNPC Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu described the attack as “unfortunate” but declined to comment on the death toll.
Nigerian Minister of Defense Mansur Ali blamed the summer wet season for the spike in attacks in the northeast and the loss of control of territory that the army clawed back from Boko Haram last year.