African jihadis in Boko Haram carried out the "largest and most destructive" attack of its campaign by destroying thousands of homes in two Nigerian towns, according to Amnesty International.
New satellite images reveal the scale of the devastation wrought upon the neighbouring towns of Baga and Doron Baga, which were seized by the Islamist insurgents last week.
Amnesty calculates that 3,700 homes and other structures were razed in the two towns. Doron Baga was very nearly wiped from the map. Hundreds of people died when Boko Haram mounted this assault near the western shore of Lake Chad.
"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, the Nigeria researcher from Amnesty.
The Nigerian defence ministry said that 150 people died when the towns fell to Boko Haram. But the government has frequently given false and inaccurate information about the Islamist insurgency, often playing down the scale of the suffering.
Other estimates suggested that as many as 2,000 people might have died last week. The true figure may never be known. Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, has yet to make any public statement about these incidents.
Amnesty calculates that Boko Haram killed at least 4,000 civilians during the course of 2014. The rebels now control about 20,000 square miles of territory across the neighbouring states of Borno and Yobe. (© Daily Telegraph London)