Boko Haram ‘killed woman in labour’ during attack: Amnesty

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Lagos (AFP) – Boko Haram fighters killed a woman as she was in labour during what is feared to be the deadliest attack in the militants’ six-year insurgency, Amnesty International claimed on Thursday.

The human rights group said one witness to the assault on Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad in northeast Nigeria, told them the woman was shot by indiscriminate fire that also cut down small children.

“Half of the baby boy (was) out and she died like this,” the unnamed witness was quoted as saying.

“They killed so many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga. I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing,” a man in his fifties was quoted as saying.

Another woman added: “I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked.”

The testimony chimes with claims from local officials that huge numbers were killed and that of witnesses spoken to by AFP, who described seeing decomposing bodies littering the streets. One man who escaped from Baga after hiding for three days said he was “stepping on bodies” for five kilometres (three miles) as he fled through the bush. 

Human Rights Watch said the exact death toll was unknown and in a statement published on Thursday quoted one local resident as saying: “No one stayed back to count the bodies. We were all running to get out of town ahead of Boko Haram fighters who have since taken over the area.”

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday that its team in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, was providing assistance to 5,000 survivors of the attack.

The UN refugee agency has said that more than 11,300 Nigerian refugees have fled into neighbouring Chad.

Amnesty said the eye-witnesses and images reinforced the view that the attack was Boko Haram’s “largest and most destructive” in its fight to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria. “The deliberate killing of civilians and destruction of their property by Boko Haram are war crimes and crimes against humanity and must be duly investigated,” it added.

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