Four people were killed when a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) aid convoy was ambushed in north-east Nigeria, a WFP spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday.

“WFP can confirm that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian military including WFP-hired trucks was the subject of an attack by armed groups 35 km southwest of Ngala in Borno State on Saturday,” she said in an emailed statement to Reuters. The spokeswoman was not named.

“Four people, including the driver of a WFP-hired truck and a driver’s assistant, were killed in the incident,” the statement said, adding that “WFP is working with the authorities to determine the whereabouts of the trucks.”

Attacks on aid workers are relatively rare as Nigeria continues to battle a Boko Haram insurgency, now in its ninth year, in the north-east of the country.

However, the Islamists carry out regular attacks on military and civilian targets leaving many dead and even more wounded.

The resulting conflict has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises according to the UN with 8.5 million people in need of life-saving assistance.

Last year, the UN suspended aid deliveries in Borno, the epicentre of the conflict, after a humanitarian convoy was attacked, leaving two aid workers injured.

Abuja last week approved the release of $1 billion from the country’s excess oil account to help fight the Boko Haram insurgency, despite a two-year narrative that Boko Haram has been all but defeated.

- African News Agency (ANA)