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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid