News / Africa

    State Governor Tours Site of Weekend Slaughter in Nigeria

    In this image shot with a mobile phone, a young girl stands amid the burned ruins of Baga, Nigeria, April 21, 2013.
    In this image shot with a mobile phone, a young girl stands amid the burned ruins of Baga, Nigeria, April 21, 2013.

    Location

    Baga, Nigeria
    Heather Murdock
    Residents of a northern Nigerian town are returning from hideouts in the bush after a fierce  -- and deadly -- battle between suspected Islamist militants and government security forces
     
    The fishing town of Baga sits on the northeastern edge of Nigeria, on a bit of land that juts into Lake Chad.  
     
    Residents of the town fled their homes over the weekend when fierce fighting broke out between the military and suspected militants from the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram.  A local official, Lawan Kole, says the fighting destroyed about 2,000 homes and left 185 people dead.

    A soldier involved in the field operations - who asked not to be named - says Boko Haram fighters are to blame for the carnage because they were operating in the town, essentially using the civilian population as a human shield.   
     
    “What happened that night was an exchange of fire between us and the rebels, terrorists," the soldier said. "It was terrible.  They fired RPG canisters.  That was what brought out fire.”
     
    But some locals say the battle was out of control on both sides and that soldiers set fire to houses and chased people into the bush.  
     
    The battle is believed to have begun Friday night, but it wasn’t until Sunday before it hit the news in the Nigerian capital.
     
    On Sunday, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima visited Baga.  The governor urged residents who were slowly returning to town to remain in their homes and vowed that if peace was not restored, he would personally relocate to Baga.
     
    “I will ask everybody to come back to his home and stay," Shettima said. "If the harassment continues, I will personally relocate from Maiduguri to here and let me be harassed along with the rest of the people.”
     
    Boko Haram has been battling the government since 2009, attacking churches, schools, telecom infrastructure, media houses, government offices and the local U.N. headquarters.  
     
    The crisis in Baga over the weekend represents one of the highest casualty counts for a single attack but it is not yet clear if victims were targeted or died in fires during the battle.
     
    Boko Haram advocates for the enforcement of Islamic law in Nigeria and freedom for imprisoned members.  But the group communicates with the public only through unverifiable e-mails and videos and no one is certain exactly who they are or what they represent.
     
    Some northern community leaders have asked the government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram fighters, in an effort to end the mounting death tolls.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kola
    April 23, 2013 12:23 PM
    Little wonder why Africa makes the news headlines given its propensity for violence and SADC and the UN together with the Hague look on. Will this ever change, very doubtful to say the least.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    April 22, 2013 10:22 AM
    Why was the battle not expected? Some Nigerian knows that boko haram has a 5000man strength, and yet they say boko haram is faceless. The face of boko haram has been revealed in the face of the person who knows its number of combatants. How did he know? Who will receive the amnesty proposed for this group? How is it to be administered?

    So those convicted man-eaters will be let loose on the populace once again? What a government will do this evil to its people! Ahmadinejad was in Niger just last week, did anyone care to negotiate the amnesty for the group with him? Was amnesty his idea? Or did he not bring enough money to the group so that they want to abandon the struggle; do they no longer want removal of civilization from that part of the world? I think the army is getting it right by involving the locals in the fight since they (the locals) refuse to expose the nihilists hiding among them until a war breaks out.
    In Response

    by: Dr Deji Daramola from: Canada
    April 23, 2013 12:55 PM
    It is not fair to justify the killing of innocent Nigerians just because they did not give away information about terrorists in their midst. How do they report this to?..the Nigerian police? you must be kidding. If you report things of this nature to the police in Nigeria one of three things will happen; they will either detain you as a suspect yourself, detain you for some flimsy reason in order to get a bribe out of you or insiders amongst them will inform Boko Haram that you are a traitor. Either way you look at it, the civilians are doomed!

    come to think of it, the battle started Friday, news got to Abuja on Sunday (in an area as sensitive as Borno) its a shame. The governor should stop gibberish, he should move over to that town right away..of course he knows he cant afford to, Nigerian politician don't sacrifice anything for nobody!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.