Mortuary records reveal heavy Boko Haram human losses


The Boko Haram leader: another fatal attack

Just a few days after Amnesty International published a report accusing Nigeria’s military of killing close to 1000 Boko Haram suspects extra-judicially, another report quoting mortuary records indicated that the AI may have understated the extent of massacre.

The Associated Press in a report today claimed the Nigerian military
has killed several thousands of suspected Boko Haram members from 5 October to 5 July in Borno state.

The report said the death toll tripled in June, a month after the state of emergency was declared in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

AP said the records it got cover just one hospital, Sani Abacha Specialist Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.

The Boko Haram gang: thousands of suspects killed by Nigerian troops
The Boko Haram gang: thousands of suspects killed by Nigerian troops

“In the 30 days before the state of emergency was declared on May 14, 380 bodies were delivered to the hospital by the military. In the 30 days after, the number was 1,321.

“For the whole of June, the number was 1,795, making it the worst month in the records seen by the AP, which has also witnessed many of the bodies being delivered to the hospital in military ambulances, escorted by armored cars.”

The figure is much larger than the estimated number of Boko Haram fighters, AP reported.

The AP quoted a pastor, who said he was held at Maiduguri’s Giwa Military Barracks after he and four other people were arrested because weapons were found hidden in the shoe factory where he works.

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The pastor described hundreds of naked people crammed into a cell meant for a couple of dozen. Once a day, he said, a soldier would throw a loaf of moistened bread into the cell to be brawled over. Some died of torture, he said.

He told the AP he was freed with the intervention of a Christian group, and his jailers’ recognizing his prayers for salvation as Christian. He requested anonymity fearing military retaliation.

Amnesty International reported this week that hundreds are dying in detention: some taken from the cells and shot, some dying of suffocation or starvation.

The London-based human rights group said “credible information” from a senior Nigerian army officer indicated more than 950 people have been killed in the first six months of this year. The mortuary records seen by the AP list 3,335 bodies in that period, in just one hospital.

That figure alone is about nine times greater than the 400 civilians killed in Boko Haram attacks in the same period, according to an AP count of reported incidents.

However, Boko Haram has also done much to alienate public opinion. Fighters suspected of belonging to it have gunned down dozens of schoolchildren, some as they sat at their desks writing exams, and burned alive boarding school students locked into dormitories that were set ablaze.

The group has also killed many more Muslims than Christians. In August, it gunned down 47 worshippers in a mosque. Last month it captured a muezzin, made him issue the pre-dawn summons to prayer and then killed at least seven elderly men who answered the call.

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