The Nigerian Army on Monday countered a United Nations agency over the casualty from a Boko Haram raid.
The World Food Programme, WFP, an agency of the UN had said its driver and his assistant were among four people killed when Boko Haram attacked food trucks despite military escort.
In an email to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, the WFP also said food trucks were taken to an unknown destination by the insurgents.
The army on Monday morning initially denied the killing of civilians in the coordinated attack, but later confirmed the killing of four civilians. It, however, said it was not aware they were staff of the WFP.
Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, in an SMS to the News Agency of Nigeria gave the army’s initial position.
Mr. Nicholas, a major general, said that the troops escorting the trucks had killed six insurgents and recovered weapons.
He claimed there were no civilian casualties in the attack, adding that he was at Dikwa when the incident occurred.
“There was an ambush but the soldiers killed six Boko Haram insurgents and recovered weapons. No civilian was killed.
“I was in Dikwa that Saturday and this happened while I was within,” Mr. Nicholas said.
An army spokesperson later clarified the claims, saying four civilians were killed.
“The troops however fought through the ambush, overpowered the insurgents and killed six of them. The troops also captured 3 AK 47 rifles, 3 locally fabricated fire arms, 4 magazines and a belt of 7.62 mm ammunition,” O. Nwachukwu, a colonel, said in a statement.
“Sadly four persons died in the encounter. Although none of the persons killed in the ambush has so far been identified as a staff of the UN, this Headquarters considers the lives of all citizens and indeed all humans sacrosanct, which must be protected by troops even at a supreme price.
“The situation has been brought under control and further exploitation of the general area is currently being carried out by Mobile strike Team of Operation Lafiya Dole.”
Neither the army general nor the colonel spoke on the missing food trucks mentioned by the WFP.
The WFP in its email said a driver of its hired truck and three other persons were killed in the attack at Ngala in Gamboru-Ngala Local Government Area of Borno.
Adedeji Ademigbuji, the Communication Associate of the WFP, said in the statement that a convoy of the WFP’s hired trucks conveying food items were attacked by gunmen 35 kilometres South-west of Ngala on Saturday.
He disclosed that the convoy escorted by the military was conveying foodstuff for distribution to the vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the area.
He said that a driver of the hired truck, his assistant and two other persons were killed in the attack.
“WFP confirmed that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian Military including WFP hired trucks were subject of attack by armed groups, 35 km southwest of Ngala in Borno, on Dec. 16.
“Four people, including the driver of a WFP hired truck and his assistant, were killed in the incident.
“WFP is working with the authorities to determine the whereabouts of the trucks,” Mr. Ademigbuji said.