Nigeria’s military has disputed reports that as many as 2,000 people were killed in a recent assault by militants on a town in the country’s northeast, putting the dead at 150, including many of the attackers.The military, under fire for losing large swaths of the northeast to militants from the group Boko Haram, dismissed reports of the high death toll in the town of Baga, saying it based its lower estimate on investigation and surveillance.
“From all available evidences, the number of people who lost their lives during the attack has so far not exceeded about 150 in the interim,” the Defense Ministry said on Twitter. It said the military had not “given up” on Baga or any part of the country.
In recent days, local officials in Baga also said the toll had been exaggerated.
The military has appealed for international support in the wake of the Baga attack. The Boko Haram crisis has strained relations between Nigeria and the United States, with the former accusing American officials of refusing to supply arms and equipment to help it defeat the militant group.
Nigeria canceled a military training deal last year with the U.S. in response to Washington’s policy of not supplying military equipment to Nigerian forces because of their poor record of human rights.
The U.S. refused to sell Cobra military helicopters to Nigeria, but offered to train a battalion of its soldiers in counterterrorism techniques if Nigeria supplied the equipment.
U.S. Ambassador James Entwhistle told Nigerian television over the weekend that the U.S. flew trainers into Nigeria last year but equipment wasn’t available and the Nigerian government canceled the training agreement.