In a previous Conflict News article, we posed the question, “Is Boko Haram worse that ISIS?”. The question, while rhetorical, helped demonstrate the fact that Boko Haram is both becoming more violent and more dangerous as time goes by. In 2014 alone, the group was believed to have killed 11,000 people in northern Nigeria, and in neighboring countries such as Cameroon. Now as we move into 2015 the group has sent yet another chilling message to the international community. Over the course of the last week, Boko Haram has engaged in a killing spree unlike anything they have previously carried out.
On the 3rd of January, the group mounted an assault on the Nigerian town of Baga, which lies on the shores of Lake Chad in the far north-east of the country. While the town was defended by a military base which hosted a multinational African force, over the course of several days of heavy fighting the town was overrun by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Following this victory the group engaged in a campaign of wholesale destruction on both the town of Baga as well as surrounding smaller towns in the area. Reportedly, militants drove into the town on pickups and began firing assault rifles and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) at its residents. Most fled, however significant numbers of people (women, children and the elderly) who were not fast enough were killed. Reports have emerged that suggest around 2000 people were among the dead, with another 10,000 having managed to escape.
In a press release on the attack, Amnesty International’s Daniel Eyre described it as the deadliest in the group’s history:
“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group. [...] this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population...”