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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora