The Amnesty International on Wednesday released the satellite images of last week’s attack on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga by the Boko Haram sect.
Based on its promise to investigate the scale of the attacks, the AI had commissioned and got the satellite data of the area from the commercial provider, DigitalGlobe, following initial reports of the attack.
AI, in a press release, condemned the killings, describing the act as “the largest and most destructive” of the Boko Haram attacks.
It said that the images contradicted with the figure given by the Director of Defence Information, Maj.Gen. Chris Olukolade, where he said those killed in Baga could not be more than 150.
According to the human rights organisation, the images together with the stories of those who survived the attack suggested that “the final death toll could be much higher than this figure.”
A researcher for Amnesty International in Nigeria, Daniel Eyre, said, “These detailed images show the devastation of catastrophic proportions in the two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days.
“Of all Boko Haram assaults analysed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet. It represents a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out and ruined.”
The human rights organisation asked the Boko Haram sect to stop killing civilians, noting that the deliberate destruction of lives and properties were war crimes and crimes against humanity which must be duly investigated.
The AI said the destruction shown in the images confirmed the horrific testimonies that the organisation had gathered.
It said that interviews with eyewitnesses as well as with local government officials and local human rights activists suggested that Boko Haram militants shot hundreds of civilians.
A man in his 50s, narrated what happened during the attack to Amnesty International.
He said, “They killed so many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga. I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing.”
The witness said he hid in the bush and was later discovered by Boko Haram fighters, who detained him in Doron Baga for four days. Those who fled described seeing many more corpses in the bush.
“I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked,” one woman told Amnesty International.
The statement by AI partly read, “The analysis shows just two of the many towns and villages that fell victims to a series of Boko Haram attacks which began on January 3, 2015.
“The number of structures damaged or destroyed in Doron Baga is likely to be higher than the 3,100 identified, but it proved difficult to delineate and confirm individual structures in the densely packed areas and under tree canopies.
“Before and after images of two neighbouring towns, Baga (160 kilometres from Maiduguri) and Doron Baga (also known as Doro Gowon, was 2.5 km from Baga), taken on January 2 and 7, show the devastating effect of the attacks which left over 3,700 structures damaged or completely destroyed. Other nearby towns and villages were also attacked over this period.
“In Baga, a densely populated town (that is) less than two square kilometres in size, approximately 620 structures were damaged or completely destroyed by fire.
“In Doron Baga, over 3,100 structures were damaged or destroyed by fire affecting most of the four square kilometre town. Many of the wooden fishing boats along the shoreline, visible in the images taken on January 2, are no longer present in the January 7 images tallying with eye witnesses’ testimony that desperate residents (that) fled by boat across Lake Chad.
The AI expressed concern that thousands of people have fled the violence across the border to Chad and to other parts of Nigeria, including Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
It called on the Federal Government to take all possible legal steps to restore security in the North-East and ensure protections of civilians.
Written For http://www.globalruns.com