Devastation of catastrophic proportions

Amnesty International has satellite photos that show the damage done by Boko Haram in Baga and Doron Baga last week.

Satellite images released by Amnesty International today provide indisputable and shocking evidence of the scale of last week’s attack on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga by Boko Haram militants.

Before and after images of two neighbouring towns, Baga (160 kilometres from Maiduguri) and Doron Baga (also known as Doro Gowon, 2.5 km from Baga), taken on 2 and 7 January 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.

“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,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

“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 ruins.”

The thing is, they’re attacking (and overcoming) military bases, so they’re getting more and more firepower. This is a very bad trend.

The BBC reported a couple of days ago that Goodluck Jonathan hasn’t even mentioned the Baga attack. Can you imagine? If armed criminals killed hundreds of people in a remote part of Scotland or Cornwall, can you imagine David Cameron saying nothing about it? If armed criminals killed hundreds of people in Alaska or Montana, can you imagine Obama ignoring it? It’s inconceivable.

The destruction shown in these images matches the horrific testimonies that Amnesty International has gathered. Interviews with eyewitnesses as well as with local government officials and local human rights activists suggest that Boko Haram militants shot hundreds of civilians.

A man in his fifties told Amnesty International what happened in Baga during the attack: “They killed so many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga. I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing.” He hid in the bush and was later discovered by Boko Haram fighters, who detained him in Doron Baga for four days.

Those who fled describe seeing many more corpses in the bush. “I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked,” one woman told Amnesty International.

Another witness described how Boko Haram were shooting indiscriminately killing even small children and a woman who was in labour. “[H]alf of the baby boy is out and she died like this,” he said.

Boko Haram fighters have repeatedly targeted communities for their perceived collaboration with the security forces. Towns that formed state-sponsored militia groups known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) have suffered particularly brutal attacks. Civilian JTF groups were active in Baga and a senior military official confirmed to Amnesty International confidentially that at times the military took these members on operations to attack Boko Haram positions. A witness told Amnesty International that during the attack on Baga that he heard Boko Haram fighters saying they were searching for Civilian JTF members, as they went house to house shooting men of fighting age.

After the attack on Baga, witnesses describe how Boko Haram drove into the bush rounding up women, children and the elderly who had escaped. According to one woman who was detained for four days “Boko Haram took around 300 women and kept us in a school in Baga. They released the older women, mothers and most of the children after four days but are still keeping the younger women.”

Of course they are. Fuck toys. Warmer and wetter than inflatable dolls, plus they can cook.


  1. Jenora Feuer says

    Not necessarily. Satellite imagery is often of the ‘new picture every day’ level of detail; you can get impressive physical resolution, but really lousy temporal resolution. So you can see the after-effects of an attack, but to see the attack in progress you have to be lucky to have a satellite overhead at exactly the right time. And actually tracking people leaving the scene is pretty close to impossible.

    So you can probably see lots of camps, but if Boko Haram are smart enough to camp in the bush, picking them out is a crapshoot at best.

  2. sambarge says

    This is madness. As people have correctly pointed out, look what happens in France when 17 people are killed and, meanwhile, Goodluck Johnathon does nothing as hundreds, if not thousands, are killed. Our chapter of Amnesty has written letters (as have others, I’m sure) but I feel like there’s little chance of shaming him into action.

    I feel so powerless. Canada used to be a peacekeeping nation but the Harper government isn’t interested in that anymore. What can we do when a sovereign country will do nothing to protect its citizens?

  3. says

    Satellite intelligence analysis is more sophisticated than that you have to have real-time imagery of an incident in progress. Vehicles leave distinctive tracks, are parked outside, are warm on infrared. Troops make fires when they camp, laager vehicles, store and guard gear, etc. guard patterns are distinctly visible and very different from how farmers behave. Napoleon famously said armies march on their stomach – well, the logistics of military forces are distinctive and you cannot field a force without them.

    If the US has tasked NRO with Nigeria, they know where Boko Haram is camping, with 1 meter accuracy.

    Dino Bugnioni , who managed the US National Photo Interpretation Center(NPIC) in the cold war has written a few books on some of what you can do with even old Film-based satellites like CORONA – it’s impressive.

  4. says

    The problem is (probably) that Nigeria’s government probably couldn’t exploit any gains against Boko Haram that might be achieved by interrupting them with a spoiling attack. And they have hostages (whenever you hear the USg talking glibly about airstrikes on ISIL remember there are civilians embedded in that mess…). 🙁
    Sitting back and doing nothing seems wrong to me but anything that would really hurt Boko Haram is going to increase the misery level for everyone.

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