- Satellite images taken before and after reports of Boko Haram’s attack on the neighboring towns of Baga and Doron Baga in Nigeria’s northern Borno state show the extent of the destruction in those cities.
- The satellite images, released today by Amnesty International, show thousands of buildings that were razed in less than a week.
“These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International, in a press release.
This image, shows a satellite image taken of Doron Baga on Jan. 2, and again on Jan. 7. The earlier images show buildings and trees, whereas the later images show what appears to be rubble where buildings once stood.
- In Baga, similar images show extensive burn damage to areas of the town.
- Baga is located close to Lake Chad, and in the restive Borno state. It’s densely populated and some local officials have said that nearly 2,000 lives were lost in recent attacks. A spokesperson for Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence played down the extent of the killing in a press statement on January 13, saying the death toll did not exceed "about 150", including "terrorists" who died in the attack.
- Amnesty International calculates that in Baga, about 620 structures were damaged or destroyed by fire. In Doron Baga, the group estimates more than 3,100 structures were damaged. On the shore of the town, fishing boats, usually ever present, are no longer there:
Interviews with witnesses said there was mass destruction and death as Boko Haram attacked. One man, in his 50s, told Amnesty International that he saw ”maybe around 100 killed.”
“I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing.”
He was later found by Boko Haram fighters and detained in Doron Baga for four days.
- Fighters told witnesses they were looking for Civilian Joint Task Force (JCTF) members, and killed many men who were of fighting age. Human Rights groups have accused the JCTF of committing atrocities against suspected Boko Haram members in Borno state.
- The elderly, women and children, were rounded up by Boko Haram afterward, said witnesses.
One woman was detained for four days and described the situation: “Boko Haram took around 300 women and kept us in a school in Baga. They released the older women, mothers and most of the children after four days, but are still keeping the younger women.”
- The area has been attacked before. In late 2014, nearly 50 fishermen were killed by Boko Haram in the same region.
- Human Rights Watch, who also issued a similar report today, had also reported in 2013 on a Nigerian military raid that killed residents and resulted in “large scale and deliberate destruction of property.”
- More on Boko Haram: