REPORT: Boko Haram Slaughters 2,000 Villagers; Officials “Gave Up Trying to Count All the Bodies”
The Boko Haram Islamist group reportedly slaughtered 2,000 villagers this week in a raid on Baja near Lake Chad.
Most of the victims were women, children and the elderly.
Hundreds of bodies remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria amid an ongoing attack described by Amnesty International as the “deadliest massacre” by Boko Haram.
Mike Omeri, the government spokesman, said fighting continued on Friday for Baga, a town on the border with Chad where Boko Haram fighters seized a key military base on January 3 and attacked again on Wednesday.
“Security forces have responded rapidly, and have deployed significant military assets and conducted air strikes against militant targets,” Omeri said in a statement.
District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when fighters drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.
“The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous,” Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defence group that fights Boko Haram, told The Associated Press news agency.
He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies.
“No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now,” Gava said.
An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.
One escapee told reporters, “I kept on stepping on dead bodies.”
“For five kilometres (three miles), I kept stepping on dead bodies until I reached Malam Karanti village, which was also deserted and burnt,” he said.
Local officials this week said the attack forced at least 20,000 people from Baga and other settlements in and around Lake Chad to flee, many of them across the border.
Nearly 600 others had been stranded on an island on the lake without food, water or shelter.
In September, shocking video was released showing thousands of soldiers and villagers fleeing a Boko Haram assault.