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Over 50 Killed in Clashes with Boko Haram in Nigeria

Abuja (July 28, 2017): More than 50 people were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on an oil exploration team in northeast Nigeria earlier this week.

Tuesday’s attack in the Magumeri area of Borno state on a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was the group’s deadliest in months.

It underscored the persistent threat posed by Boko Haram fighters, despite government claims they were a spent force, and also the risks associated with the hunt for crude in the volatile Lake Chad basin.

Details of the ambush, which was initially thought to be a kidnapping attempt, have been slow to emerge and an exact death toll difficult to establish, as the military strictly controls access to rural Borno.

At least five members of an oil exploration team were killed, a spokesman for the University of Maiduguri said. While soldiers and members of a vigilante group also died in the ambush.

The high number of casualties will be a blow for the government, which insists the insurgency is all but defeated.

At least 20,000 people have been killed and thousands more abducted since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009.

It has since freed more than 100 of the girls, in exchange for the release of its fighters detained by Nigeria’s security forces.

Details of what happened on Tuesday remain unclear, with initial reports from the army suggesting the abducted geologists and surveyors, who worked at the University of Maiduguri, had been rescued.

On Tuesday, the army said the bodies of nine Nigerian soldiers and a civilian had been recovered.

But now the university has said at least five members of staff, including two academics and a driver, were killed when the heavily armed convoy made its way back to Maiduguri, in north-east Nigeria.

Sources said that more than 50 people, most of them soldiers and volunteers from a vigilante group, had been killed in total – although other sources suggest the number killed may rise further still.

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