Nigeria says the number of people who lost their lives in an assault by Boko Haram militants on the town of Baga last week was no more than 150.
The defence ministry said this figure included “many of the terrorists” who had attacked the town in Borno state and faced resistance by troops.
Local officials earlier estimated the number of deaths at as many as 2,000.
Nigeria has often been accused of underestimating casualty figures to downplay the threat of Boko Haram.
The ministry dismissed higher estimates for deaths at Baga, in north-east Nigeria, as “speculation and conjecture” and “exaggerated”.
It said the army was taking “necessary actions” to restore law and order there, but gave few details about the operation to recapture the town from the Islamist insurgents.
Earlier, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, in central Nigeria, accused the West of ignoring the threat posed by Boko Haram.
Ignatius Kaigama said the world had to show more determination to halt the group’s advance in Nigeria.
His warning came after at least 23 people were killed at the weekend by three female suicide bombers, one reported to be 10 years old.
In neighbouring Cameroon, the military said it had repelled an attack by Boko Haram insurgents on one of its northern bases.
A military source told the BBC that the insurgents had come in over the Nigerian border. In the exchange of gunfire, the army said one soldier and several insurgents were killed.
Archbishop Kaigama told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the slaughter in Baga had shown that the Nigerian military was unable to tackle Boko Haram.
“It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But… we seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories… with such impunity,” he said.