| 21.9°C Dublin

2,000 feared dead in Nigeria after Boko Haram massacre

Close

Boko Haram militants

Boko Haram militants

Boko Haram militants

Hundreds of bodies - too many to count - remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria from an Islamic extremist attack that Amnesty International suggested Friday is the "deadliest massacre" in the history of Boko Haram.

And yesterday at least 16 people were killed and several injured by a bomb attack in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri.

Yesterday's explosion - in a busy market area, where local people buy chickens - was triggered by a girl suicide bomber who may have been as young as 10 years old.

A government spokesman said fighting continues this weekend for Baga, a town on the border with Chad where insurgents seized a key military base last Sunday and attacked again on Wednesday.

A district official said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents 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," said Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defense group that fights Boko Haram.

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."

Amnesty International say there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed. If true, "this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught," said Amnesty International.

The previous bloodiest day in the uprising involved soldiers gunning down unarmed detainees freed in an attack on Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri city last March. Satellite imagery indicated more than 600 people were killed that day.

The five-year insurgency killed more than 10,000 people last year alone. More than a million people are displaced inside Nigeria and hundreds of thousands have fled across its borders into Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Emergency workers said this week they are having a hard time coping with scores of children separated from their parents in the chaos of Boko Haram's increasingly frequent and deadly attacks.

Just seven children have been reunited with parents in Yola, capital of Adamawa state, where about 140 others have no idea if their families are alive or dead, said Sa'ad Bello, the coordinator of five refugee camps in Yola.

He said he was optimistic that more reunions will come as residents return to towns that the military has retaken from extremists in recent weeks.

Sunday Independent