In January, Boko Haram made international news with the alleged killing of nearly 2,000 civilians in the town of Baga. Now, the Nigerian military has announced that they have finally retaken the area, according to the BBC.
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The announcement came by way of the following tweet:
FLASH: Troops have this afternoon captured #BAGA after fierce battle with terrorists. Heavy Casualties. Mopping up ongoing. Details later
— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) February 21, 2015
Whereas the Nigerian military has been guilty in the past of making exaggerated or false claims about alleged victories, their most-recent announcement has been verified by other sources, with the BBC’s Will Ross adding, “We have been able to verify that the town is no longer under the control of the jihadists.”
The take-over of Baga shocked the world when human rights organization Amnesty International declared that the town, which originally had a population of 10,000, had more than 2,000 civilians murdered by the Islamic sect.
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.
He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies. “No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now,” Gava said.
An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.
The Nigerian government would come to quickly reject that figure, though, insisting instead that only 150 people lost their lives.
Days later, though, Amnesty International would release satellite imagery bolstering their figures.
With the number of projected casualties coupled with the destruction to vegetation and buildings, Amnesty International is calling the assault waged on the people of Baga and Doron Baga “catastrophic.”
Amnesty Researcher Daniel Eyre added, “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.
“It represents a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out ruins.”
The massacre forced 7,000 to escape to the Chadian town of Ngouboua, but just about two weeks ago, Boko Haram insurgents would attack that key town, hitting the country directly for the first time.
Nearly 200 Women & Children Return Home
On Friday, 158 women and children who were kidnapped by Boko Haram during a raid in their village of Katarko, Yobe state, returned home.
Of the group, 62 were married women and the rest were children, according to Yobe State Emergency Management Agency Secretary Musa Idi Jidawa.
At the time of the attack, 16 of the women’s husbands were killed.
Muhammdu Katarko, a Father told the press that he had “given up” hope that he would ever see his daughters again.
“But fortunately I have now seen them alive, health and hearty.”
One of the abductees, who wished to remain unnamed, also added that Boko Haram abstained from abusing and/or raping them during their seizure.
Oddly enough, it is still largely unclear why the insurgents decided to let the group go. Some reports indicate that Boko Haram released them voluntarily, while others maintain that they were forced to release them after they came under attack.