Boko Haram Attack on Oil Team Killed 48

  • Casualties said to include 18 soldiers, five geologists
  • Nigeria trying to expand exploration outside its restive delta

An attack on a Nigerian oil exploration team by Boko Haram Islamist militants killed at least 48 people, hospital and military officials in the northeast city of Maiduguri said.

Those who died in the July 25 attack include 18 soldiers, 15 local vigilantes, five geologists from the University of Maiduguri, four drivers working for the state oil company and six others, said medical and military officials at the university’s hospital who asked not to be named as they weren’t authorized to comment.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Emmanuel Kachikwu, told reporters earlier on Thursday that “the number of people who have been identified as dead are still being collated.” Sani Usman, the spokesman for the Nigerian military, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone for comment.

Africa’s top oil producer is trying to expand exploration in areas outside the restive Niger River delta in the south where militant attacks on pipelines cut output to an almost 30-year low last year. The exploration team hired by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., which was concluding geological surveys in parts of the Lake Chad basin, may resume work when “there is security clearance,” Kachickwu said.

Evenly Split

Boko Haram, which is opposed to Western education, has waged a violent campaign since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic law on Africa’s most populous nation of more than 180 million people, using ambushes and bombs in attacks across the north of the country. The West African country is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

The exploration team was in a convoy of 11 vehicles with security escorts on their way to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, when they were ambushed in the town of Barno Yasu, officials said.

Five of nine geologist were killed in the attack while four remain missing, Dani Mamman, chairman of the Academic Staff Union of the University of Maiduguri, said Thursday by phone.

— With assistance by Mustapha Muhammad

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