Nigerian army puts death toll in ambush at 30
The Nigerian army on Sunday has put the death toll in the Boko Haram ambush of oil workers and their security escorts at 30, including 14 soldiers and members of a civilian joint task force and university staff working on an oil exploration in the northeastern part of the country.
The army also withdrew its earlier claim that all the abducted oil workers had been rescued, with the spokesman Sani Usman saying "the error in the statement was not deliberate".
"So far the search and rescue team has recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 Civilian Joint Task Force and five members of the exploration team," read the statement.
"Contrary to reports in some media, six members of the exploration team, out of 12 who went out, are still missing, while one of the NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ] staff returned to base alive," the statement added.
A suspected Boko Haram video showing three of several oil workers recently abducted in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri, was released late Friday showing the captives asking authorities to negotiate their release.
The university confirmed to Anadolu Agency that the three men on the video were members of their staff: Yusuf Ibrahim, a lecturer at the geology department, Solomon Yusuf of the same department and Haruna Dashe, a driver. The university also said the whereabouts of a fourth member of staff, Mohamed Kolo, were unknown.
They were working on an oil prospecting project sponsored by the state-owned oil corporation NNPC in the Gubio area of northeastern Borno State were attacked on July 25 along with their security escort.
Local media had reported some 48 dead and several others missing.
The vice chancellor of the university Ibrahim Njodi called out the Nigerian army over its claim late Wednesday that the troops had rescued all the workers and had lost nine soldiers in the process.
Most of the workers also reportedly worjkk at the university, which has a partnership with the oil corporation concerning a project around Lake Chad Basin.
Despite the militants losing ground they gained in 2014 and 2015, analysts say Boko Haram remains a serious security threat to Africa's most populous country contrary to claims made by authorities.