News / Africa

Rights Group Suspects Nigerian Military of Covering Up Violence

Post-violence view of concentration of building damages (area 2) as of April 26, 2013. 345 destroyed and severely damaged buildings, burnt trees and fire burn scars visible within this section of Baga.
Post-violence view of concentration of building damages (area 2) as of April 26, 2013. 345 destroyed and severely damaged buildings, burnt trees and fire burn scars visible within this section of Baga.
Heather Murdock
Human Rights Watch says satellite analysis of the northern Nigerian town of Baga proves that thousands of homes were destroyed during a battle that killed hundreds in April.  The organization says the analysis undermines the military’s claim that there was far less destruction and calls for a government investigation.  
 
The battle or massacre - depending on who you ask - in the remote northern fishing town of Baga was on April 16 but it didn’t make the news for nearly a week.  And even then it was believed to have happened on the 19th.
 
Credible sources across Nigeria still disagree on what happened.  New York-based Human Rights Watch has now joined the debate, presenting satellite imagery that compares Baga before and after the violence.  
 
Baga, Nigeria mapBaga, Nigeria map
x
Baga, Nigeria map
Baga, Nigeria map
Human Rights Watch says analysis of the pictures shows nearly 2,300 homes were burnt down even though the military said only 30 homes were burnt.  The organization says it is concerned the military is trying to cover up human rights abuses.
 
The military has maintained that 36 people were killed after Boko Haram insurgents attacked, killing a soldier.  Most of the casualties, they say, were members of Boko Haram, which has been conducting violent operations for nearly four years.
 
Maina Maaji Lawan, a Nigerian senator that represents Baga and is from the town, visited the gravesites over the weekend and said that more than 200 people had been killed and thousands of people were still displaced.

“After physically visiting it, what I have seen is far, far, far more than the reports we received," said Lawan.  "The level of destruction of houses I would not put it at anything less than 4,000.”
 
More concerning than the conflicting reports, he says, is that aid agencies don’t have enough resources to care for the living victims.

“The magnitude of the need has overwhelmed them," said Lawan.  "They have reported that themselves.  I have seen it.  NEMA (the National Emergency Management Agency) and Red Cross and these aid agencies say they need doctors.  There was not one single medical doctor there.”
 
The Human Rights watch report also details individual witness accounts.  In one account, a 32-year-old fisherman says soldiers told the people they were not cooperating with security forces in the battle against Boko Haram and were therefore all suspect.  
 
Human Rights Watch says 3,600 people have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence, including hundreds killed by security forces.  The organization says thousands more people have been arrested and many have been held without charges in inhumane conditions.
 
Locals in Borno State, the original home of Boko Haram, have long complained that they live in fear of both Boko Haram and security forces.  They say if Boko Haram suspects a person of loyalty to security forces, or vice-versa, that person is likely to be killed.
 
Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid