by Kolapo Olapoju
Following its earlier revelation that over 2,000 people were killed in Baga and Nigerian Army’s response saying the figure is 150, Amnesty International (AI) has released the satellite images of the attack on the towns by the Boko Haram sect.
In a bid to investigate the level of the attacks, the AI had commissioned and got the satellite data of the area from the commercial provider, DigitalGlobe.
The human rights organisation said on Wednesday, January 14, that the images contradicted with the figure given by the Director of Defence Information, Maj.Gen. Chris Olukolade.
According to AI, the images and the stories of those who survived the attack suggested that “the final death toll could be much higher than this figure.”
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 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 statement by AI said in part: “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.”
Furthermore, the AI called on the Federal Government to take all possible legal steps to restore security in the North-East and ensure protections of civilians.