WASHINGTON, January 12, 2015 – As the world’s eyes watched Paris and the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks Boko Haram militants began raiding Baga, a multinational military based and northern Nigerian villages after a raid 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.”
Explosions in Nigeria today killed an estimated 19 people when an alleged suicide bomber, thought to be a 10 year old female, blew herself up in a crowded market int he Borno State capital of Maiduguri. Later a vehicle exploded at a police station in neighboring Yobe.
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.
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.
As militants stormed the villages in armored vehicles, pursuing fleeing residents as militants fired, according to Baba Abba Hassan, a local district head, indiscriminately..
“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
Islamist militants sprayed bullets as they stormed in last weekend in trucks and armored vehicles, local authorities said Friday. The attack us feared to the worst of the groups six-year insurgency.
When they arrived, they unloaded motorcycles and pursued residents who fled into the bush, firing indiscriminately, said Baba Abba Hassan, a local district head.
Local officials reported death tolls ranging from hundreds to as many as 2,000 people as a result of the attack that started at dawn, storming through 16 villages. Due to the many attacks and the inability to recover the bodies of the dead, an exact humber is hard to reach.
Government spokesperson Mike Omeri has said that the governmetn is attempting to reclaim the areas form the militants
Attacks started at dawn and continued throughout last weekend, according to residents who have said that there are a massive number of fatalities.
“If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as 2,000 civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” Amnesty International’s Daniel Eyre said.
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, 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.
The United States condemned the attacks, saying the group “shows no regard” for human life.
“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.