WASHINGTON, January 12, 2015 – Traditional and social media are largely ignoring horrific attacks on the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga. Despite the recent massacre of more than 2,000 people and the killing of thousands of Nigerians by Boko Haram since 2009, the hashtag #WeAreBaga has gone largely unnoticed. It has failed to ignite the same type of outpouring as #JeSuisCharlie, which shows solidarity for the victims of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo last week.
Nigerian authorities have had little success in stopping the raids and bombings by Boko Haram, which has killed more than 13,000 people and kidnapped thousands more since 2009, according to President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan is currently facing a reelection challenge from former military ruler, and Muslim, Muhammadu Buhari on Feb. 14.
“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act,” Amnesty International said in a statement. District head Baba Abba Hassan says the victims are mostly children, women and elderly that “could not run fast enough” to escape the insurgents that were firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
The group has seized a key military base from which they are operating. The group, whose name is actually Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, is attempting to create an Islamic caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria. The Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC has reported that the five-year insurgency has claimed the lives of more than 10,000, displacing hundreds of thousand more.
Jos, in central Nigeria, has suffered attacks from Boko Haram. The Catholic Archbishop of JosIgnatius Kaigama, said to the BBC, that Nigeria cannot confront Boko Haram, who is in control of more than 70% of the Borno state, alone.
“It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But… we seem to be helpless,” he said. “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.”
As the world’s eyes watched Paris and the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks, Boko Haram militants continued their deadly assaults that started on January 3.
“Dead bodies litter the bushes in the area and it is still not safe to go and pick them (up) for burial,” said Musa Bukar, the chairman of the local government where Baga is located.
“Some people who hid in their homes were burned alive.”
Last week explosions in Nigeria killed an estimated 19 people when an alleged suicide bomber, a 10 year old female, blew herself up in a crowded market int he Borno State capital of Maiduguri.
Civilian vigilante Ashiru Mustapha said the blast happened as the girl was being searched at the entrance to the market.
“The girl was about 10 years old and I doubt if she actually knew what was strapped to her body,” he told AFP.
Later a vehicle exploded at a police station in neighboring Yobe.
Boko Haram, responsible for abducting the Chibok school girls last April, continues its reign of terror with little notice to a 24 hour Western news media. Boko Haram were seen as behind the attack in Maiduguri as it has increasingly used women and young girls as human bombs in their deadly campaign for a hardline Islamic state.
The militants have been active since 2009, attacking “infidels” that do not adopt their strict message of Sharia law that includes subjugating of women, not allowing education of women, selling of women into sexual slavery, and intolerance to other religions,
Boko Haram has attacked police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings. It has also kidnapped students, including more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April and remain missing.
The Islamist group has said its aim is to impose a stricter form of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
Twenty of 27 local government areas in Borno are now inaccessible due to Boko Haram’s insurgency. State’s authorities are spending 300 million naira ($1.7 million) a month to feed and care for displaced people in makeshift camps, according to Grema Terab, chairman of Borno’s State Emergency Management Agency.
By January 10th, United Nations refugee reports are that 7,300 Nigerianshave sought haven in bordering Chad, whose border is close to Baga as a least 850,000 people have been displaced by the violence in three northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
“All those responsible for these recurring terrorist attacks must be held accountable,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The US State Department said Boko Haram’s recent escalation of attacks on civilians “shows no regard for human life” and called for those responsible to be brought to justice. “The United States abhors such violence, which continues to take a terrible toll on the people of Nigeria and the broader region, including Cameroon,” it added.