Unicef suspends aid in northern Nigeria after convoy attack

The United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef,  has temporarily suspended humanitarian operations in northern Nigeria, where as many as half a million people need assistance, after gunmen attacked a convoy and wounded two aid workers.

Unknown assailants ambushed the convoy on Thursday as it was traveling from Bama to Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state, a stronghold of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Unicef said in a statement posted to its website. A Unicef employee and an International Organization for Migration contractor were injured and are being treated at a local hospital, it said.

“The convoy was in a remote area of northeastern Nigeria, where protracted conflict has caused extreme suffering and has triggered a severe malnutrition crisis,” it said.

Two soldiers were also wounded in the attack by suspected Boko Haram members, Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman said in an e-mailed statement.

More than 500,000 people are living in “catastrophic conditions” in Borno state, Medecins Sans Frontieres said this week. At least 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes by the violent campaign by Boko Haram since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic law in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of about 180 million.