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Rights Group Calls for War Crimes Probe Against Nigeria's Military

FILE - Nigerian military secure an area in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Feb. 16, 2019.

A prominent human rights watchdog has called for an investigation into possible war crimes against Nigeria's military in its fight against jihadists, which has resulted in the burning of entire villages and the displacement of residents.

Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, has called for the probe.

"These brazen acts of razing entire villages, deliberately destroying civilian homes and forcibly displacing their inhabitants with no imperative military grounds, should be investigated as possible war crimes," Ojigho said. "They represent a longstanding pattern of the Nigerian military's brutal tactics against the civilian population. Forces allegedly responsible for such violations must be suspended immediately and brought to justice."

The rights groups said it interviewed a dozen women and men who were forced from their homes in the restive northeast early last month. Their accounts were backed up by data from remote satellite sensing, Amnesty said, which indicated that the villages of Bukarti, Ngariri, and Matiri were burned and razed. The investigation also revealed burning in nearby communities, according to the rights group.

The Nigerian military has repeatedly denied similar allegations of possible war crimes.