On Friday, Amnesty International released a report about a recent series of attacks by Boko Haram that killed hundreds, if not thousands of people in Nigeria. According to Daniel Eyre, the author of the Amnesty report, the terror groups raids on Baga, a border town near Chad, may constitute the group's "deadliest act" yet:
If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as 2,000 civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population.
Additional remarks from survivors on the ground in Nigeria were no less chilling. "Too many to count," the Associated Press wrote of the bodies, adding that a district official "said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga."
Other reports added that Boko Haram is thought to have "wiped out" another 16 towns outside of Baga, which the group reportedly emptied of its 10,000 residents. "A large number reportedly drowned as they crossed Lake Chad," the BBC relayed.
Following its takeover of Baga last week, Boko Haram has launched fresh attacks that have killed dozens, Reuters noted, adding that "the insurgency killed more than 10,000 people last year, according to a count by the Council on Foreign Relations in November." The raids coincide with the launching of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's campaign. Jonathan, who faces reelection on February 14, has been criticized for his handling of the Boko Haram offensive.
That nearly a week later we're hearing the vague details of an attack that possibly killed thousands speaks to the challenge of getting reliable information about the ongoing crisis in Nigeria. While the chaos has been wrought in large part by Boko Haram, which aims to establish an Islamic state in Africa and has infamously kidnapped countless girls seeking education, some of the other violence stems from long-standing sectarian tensions within the country.
"Herdsmen who are Fulani, who are Muslim, are fighting with farmers who are Christian, who are Berom," John Campbell, the former American ambassador to Nigeria, told The Atlantic last year.
He added that in addition to the difficulties of tracking the number of casualties, the quest to bring people to justice is even more arduous. "There is virtually no judicial process involved in this at all. Nobody has been held accountable for the murder of anybody."