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Rights Group Condemns Nigeria For Massacre - 2002-04-01

A leading human rights group has strongly condemned Nigeria for the massacre last year of more than 200 civilians.

In a report Monday, Human Rights Watch says Nigerian soldiers carried out a well-planned military operation last October against ethnic Tiv in Benue State. The massacre, detailed in accounts by survivors, was revenge for the killing of 19 army soldiers in the area two weeks earlier.

Human Rights Watch reports that during the massacre, several hundred soldiers also destroyed homes, shops and other buildings in more than seven towns in the central Nigerian state.

The rights group calls the killings a clear case of extrajudicial executions, in direct violation of international human rights law. It criticizes the Nigerian government for neither strongly condemning the action nor bringing those responsible to justice. The report says the government's inaction amounts to encouraging the military to continue human rights violations.

Human Rights Watch also criticizes foreign governments - in particular the United States and Britain - for not taking a stronger stand on the issue. The U.S. State Department condemned the massacre, calling it the most egregious case of Nigeria's overall poor performance in protecting human rights.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.