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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid