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Fresh rights abuse in Boko haram conflict claimed

Philip Sandner (im)
August 6, 2014

Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria have repeatedly been blamed for killings and other human rights violations. New video footage appears to show the Nigerian military executing suspected members of the group.

Nigerian troops
Image: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

The insurgency in northern Nigeria, pitting Islamist militants against Nigerian armed forces, has so far claimed more than 4,000 lives this year, the rights group Amnesty International said.

Attacks by the militants in the name of Islam have left scores homeless and destroyed government installations. But blame for the violence does not rest with Boko Haram alone. In a press release on Tuesday (05.08.2014), Amnesty said it had gathered gruesome images and testimonies that showed that the army had carried out extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations.

Video footage shows men in military uniform cutting the throats of the detainees and throwing the bodies into a grave nearby. 14 detainees are said to have been executed in this manner. Two more were shot.

In an interview with DW, Makmid Kamara, a Nigeria expert at Amnesty international, said they had checked the evidence thoroughly and that witnesses were able to identify the victims and some of the soldiers involved.

Military to carry out investigations

Kamara urged the military authorities to carry out an impartial investigation into the executions and other human rights abuses.

"Our contacts in the military - who spoke to us only on condition of anonymity - confirmed the veracity of most of our information, including name of the battalion and the unit to which these soldiers belonged," he said.

The perpetrators were evidently members of the 81st Battalion which is stationed in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria. Amnesty said the executions took place on the 14.03.2014 in Giddari, near Maiduguri, Borno state's provincial capital.

On the same day Boko Haram had attacked a military camp and freed hundreds of prisoners. After this attack, the soldiers arrested and killed more than 600 people.

Nigeria's military spokesman Chris Olukolade
The Nigerian army has denied responsibility for the extrajudicial killings documented by Amnesty InternationalImage: DW/A. Kriesch

The army has since denied responsibility for these incidents, but has said it will open an investigation. Army spokesman Chris Olukolade described what had happened as "unfortunate".

"The army doesn't tolerate any form of human rights violations, as they are seen in the video," Olukolade said.

Effect of the emergency

The military spokesman said that the army had been successful in guaranteeing Nigerian national unity.

"Before the declaration of the state of emergency in 2013, several parts of this country were out of control, foreign flags were being flown all over the place and illegal taxes were being collected," Olukolade added.

A map showing the states of yobe, Adamawa and Borno in northern Nigeria
A state of emergency was declared in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states in May 2013Image: DW

Kamara disputes this claim. He does not believe the situation in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe has improved since the state of emergency was declared there

"Human rights violations and the level of violence have increased both on the part of Boko Haram and the Nigerian security forces". He also said that even if there was no justification for the crimes by Boko Haram, the Nigerian army was still obliged to comply with both national and international law.

Amnesty also said some Boko Haram attacks were carried out as punishment for local people who were perceived to have cooperated with the Nigerian military.

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