Boko Haram fighters killed a woman as she was in labour during
is feared could be the deadliest attack in the militants’ six-year
insurgency, Amnesty International claimed on Thursday.
rights group said one witness to the assault on Baga, on the shores of
Lake Chad in northeast Nigeria, told them the woman was shot by
indiscriminate fire that also cut down small children.
“Half of the baby boy (was) out and she died like this,” the unnamed witness was quoted as saying.
said this week that hundreds of people, if not more, may have been
killed in the attack, which began on January 3 and is thought to have
targeted civilian vigilantes helping the military.
“They killed so
many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga. I ran
to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing,” a man
in his fifties was quoted as saying.
Another woman added: “I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked.”
testimony chimes with claims from local officials that huge numbers
were killed and that of witnesses spoken to by AFP, who described seeing
decomposing bodies littering the streets.
One man who escaped
from Baga after hiding for three days said he was “stepping on bodies”
for five kilometres (three miles) as he fled through the bush.
military, which often downplays death tolls, said this week that 150
people died, dismissing as “sensational” claims that 2,000 may have lost
Security analysts have said that it may be
impossible to know exactly how many were killed, with the town and
surrounding area still in rebel control and access impossible.
Amnesty on Thursday also published satellite images of Baga and Doron
Baga, 2.5 kilometres away, which it said showed the scale of the
Aerial shots of the two towns — which have been hit
previously by fighting — were shown the day before the Islamists moved
in and four days later, after they had razed homes and businesses.
detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two
towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four
days,” said the group’s Nigeria researcher, Daniel Eyre.
3,700 structures were damaged or completely destroyed — 620 in Baga and
more than 3,100 in Doron Baga, Amnesty said but added that the number
could be higher.
Local officials have said Baga and at least 16 surrounding settlements were burnt to the ground and at least 20,000 people fled.
charity Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday that its team in the
Borno State capital, Maiduguri, was providing assistance to 5,000
survivors of the attack.
The UN refugee agency has said that more than 11,300 Nigerian refugees have fled into neighbouring Chad.
said the eye-witnesses and images reinforced the view that the attack
was Boko Haram’s “largest and most destructive” in its fight to
establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
statement added: “The deliberate killing of civilians and destruction of
their property by Boko Haram are war crimes and crimes against humanity
and must be duly investigated.”
Some 300 women were said to have
been rounded up and detained at a school, witnesses told Amnesty, adding
that older women, mothers and children were released after four days
but younger women kept.
The Baga attack came before presidential
and parliamentary elections in Nigeria next month and an upsurge in
violence apparently designed to undermine the legitimacy of the vote.
Saturday, 19 people were killed when explosives strapped to a young
girl said to be as young as 10 detonated at a crowded market in
Four people were also killed when two female suicide
bombers hit another market in the commercial capital of neighbouring
Yobe State, Potiskum, on Sunday.
Source: PM News