Nigeria: Hundreds, possibly thousands, killed in Boko Haram massacre


Hundreds of bodies, "too many to count" according to the AP, are strewn in the bush in Nigeria after a mass killing by Islamic extremists. Some estimates place the number of dead at over 2,000.

Wikipedia has an extensively reported page up, which includes details on the government's denial that any such massacre took place.

Amnesty International describes the attack as the "deadliest massacre" in the history of Boko Haram. Most of the victims were women, children, and elders, who could not run fast enough to flee the killers.

Reuters spoke to survivors who said the Islamist shooters began firing indiscriminately and burning buildings on Tuesday evening, and kept killing into Wednesday.

"I escaped with my family in the car after seeing how Boko Haram was killing people … I saw bodies in the street. Children and women, some were crying for help," Mohamed Bukar told Reuters after fleeing to the state capital Maiduguri.

From the Associated Press:

Mike Omeri, the government spokesman on the insurgency, said fighting continued Friday for Baga, a town on the border with Chad where insurgents seized a key military base on Jan. 3 and attacked again on Wednesday.

"Security forces have responded rapidly, and have deployed significant military assets and conducted airstrikes against militant targets," Omeri said in a statement.

District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.

"The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous," Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defense group that fights Boko Haram, told The Associated Press

And from the Amnesty International statement:

"The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram's deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group. If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught against the civilian population," said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

"We are currently working to find out more details of what happened during the attack on Baga and the surrounding area. This attack reiterates the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks," said Daniel Eyre.

Fleeing survivors say they were not able to bury the dead, and corpses litter the town's streets. Boko Haram is now in control of Baga and 16 nearby towns, after the military retreat. BBC News spoke to Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in the area, who said Baga had a population of about 10,000, but that the town is now "virtually non-existent".

While he raised fears that some 2,000 had been killed in the raids, other reports put the number in the hundreds.

Mr Lawan, the senator for northern Borno, called on government troops to stop "dilly-dallying" and to fight back to protect residents.

"The indiscriminate killings went on and on and on," he told BBC Focus on Africa.

Boko Haram's offensive continued on Thursday, with its fighters setting up checkpoints and killing people who were hiding in the bush, the senator said.

Fleeing residents spoke of the stench of rotting corpses on the streets and surrounding bushes, he said.