AI: Nigerian uprising kills 1 500 this year

2014-03-31 10:11

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lagos - Increasing atrocities by extremists and uncontrolled reprisals by security forces have killed at least 1 500 people this year in north-eastern Nigeria's Islamic uprising, Amnesty International reported Monday, accusing both sides of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a new report, the London-based advocacy group called for an international investigation.

"The international community cannot continue to look the other way in the face of extrajudicial executions, attacks on civilians and other crimes under international law being committed on a mass scale," said Netsanet Belay, the group's advocacy director for Africa.

The report said the toll of more than 1 500 deaths indicated "an alarming deterioration". That would equal the total number of people killed since the uprising began in 2010 through June 2013, according to an Associated Press count.

This year started turbulently for the military, with President Goodluck Jonathan firing all his service chiefs and then replacing the defence minister last month, amid growing anger at the military's inability to curb the killings. Three north-eastern states covering one-sixth of the country have been under a military state of emergency since May last year.

Amnesty International said more than half of those killed this year have been civilians slaughtered by extremists. They include scores of students who were gunned down in schools, had their throats slit or were burned alive in locked dormitories set aflame while they slept.

Nearly all the other deaths involve soldiers gunning down unarmed detainees freed in a March 14 attack on Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri city, the report said.

It said Amnesty has witnesses and satellite imagery indicating more than 600 people were killed that day. It was the bloodiest day on record in the four-year-old uprising. Hospital workers told the AP they counted 425 corpses, which had to be buried in a mass grave because there was no space in the mortuary.

Mass graves

But the Amnesty report says satellite imagery indicates there are three mass graves.

The report described what happened when soldiers came upon 56 unarmed detainees hiding in a classroom of the University of Maiduguri after they were freed.

"We watched as the soldiers opened fire killing all 56. They were killed in front of us. All of them," the report said, quoting an unidentified witness.

In another instance, the report said vigilantes rounded up 198 freed detainees and turned them over to soldiers who, after a brief argument with the vigilantes, forced the detainees to lie down on the ground and gunned them down.

Such killings follow "an entrenched pattern of deaths in custody" in northeast Nigeria, Amnesty said.

Giwa army barracks holds a notorious detention centre where people have been held illegally for months without being charged or allowed access to lawyers or families.

An AP investigation of hospital mortuary records found more than 3 300 detainees died there between January and August last year in extrajudicial killings, from untreated wounds from beatings and from starvation and suffocation in overcrowded cells.

Monday's report calls for the United Nations to help investigate "given Nigeria's apparent unwillingness and inability to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of these crimes".
Read more on:    goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.