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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram extremists ambushed an oil exploration convoy in northern Nigeria, killing at least 10 people and abducting several others who were later rescued, officials said Wednesday. They said insurgents also had been killed, but gave no numbers.
The ambush came several weeks after the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation's management announced it was resuming oil exploration around Lake Chad following assurances by Nigeria's military that security had improved in the area, which was once under Boko Haram's control.
Nigeria's military and a self-defense group in Borno State were providing security for the oil exploration workers.
Bunu Bukar, secretary of the self-defense group, known as the Hunters Association, said its members saw the bodies of government soldiers after the ambush Tuesday.
"What I can confidently confirm to you is that the insurgents came in new vehicles and fully dressed in military uniforms," Bukar said.
Army spokesman Sani Usman said later Wednesday that all oil company staff had been rescued. Those killed in the convoy included an army officer, eight soldiers and a civilian, he said.
Usman said the team sent to search for those kidnapped killed some extremists and also recovered four vehicles, large quantities of ammunition, assorted drugs and materials for making explosive devices.
National Petroleum spokesman Ndu Ughamadu earlier had said 10 geological surveyors were abducted. But Zanna Modu, council chairman of the Magumeri local government area, put the number of kidnapped at seven, saying they included four self-defense fighters, two oil company employees and a staffer with the University of Maiduguri.
A large number of Boko Haram fighters were killed in the shootout, Modu said.
Boko Haram's eight-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and continues to carry out deadly attacks despite the government's declaration late last year that the extremists had been "crushed."