‘At least’ 1,600 killed in Boko Haram con­flict since June

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

At least 1,600 peo­ple have been killed in the Boko Haram con­flict since the start of June, tak­ing the civil­ian death toll to some 3,500 this year, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said on Wed­nes­day.

The deaths in Nige­ria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger come de­spite ap­par­ent mil­i­tary ad­vances against the Is­lamist mil­i­tants in re­cent weeks, the rights group said in a state­ment.

“The num­ber of peo­ple killed so far this year is truly shock­ing with more than 3,500 civil­ian fa­tal­i­ties in less than 300 days,” said Amnesty’s Africa di­rec­tor for re­search and ad­vo­cacy, Net­sanet Be­lay.

“Gov­ern­ments in af­fected coun­tries must take all nec­es­sary le­gal mea­sures to en­sure the se­cu­rity of civil­ians in af­fected ar­eas,” he added.

Nige­ria’s army in par­tic­u­lar has claimed sig­nif­i­cant gains, de­stroy­ing rebel camps in the north­east, ar­rest­ing al­leged com­man­ders and free­ing hun­dreds of women and chil­dren ap­par- ently held by the group.

On Wed­nes­day, Abuja said it was cur­rently hold­ing “315 ter­ror­ist mem­bers” who had sur­ren­dered and was ex­plor­ing the cre­ation of a “safe pas­sage­way” to rein­te­grate those who had re­nounced the group’s ex­treme ide­ol­ogy.

Amnesty did not pro­vide a break­down of deaths per coun­try but ac­cord­ing to AFP re­port­ing, at least 1,260 peo­ple have been killed in Nige­ria alone since Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari came to pow- er on May 29 with a vow to crush the Nige­ria-based Is­lamists.

The ma­jor­ity of at­tacks have been in Borno state, with the in­sur­gents in­creas­ingly us­ing bomb and sui­cide at­tacks against “soft” civil­ian tar­gets such as places of wor­ship, mar­kets and bus sta­tions.

On Sept. 20, nearly 140 peo­ple were killed in a se­ries of bomb­ings in the Borno state cap­i­tal Maiduguri and the gar­ri­son town of Monguno, 140 kilo­me­ters (87 miles) away.

On Wed­nes­day, army spokes- man Colonel Tukur Gusau claimed Boko Haram fight­ers had poi­soned wa­ter sources such as wells and streams in places they had once held. A large num­ber of cat­tle died af­ter drink­ing con­tam­i­nated wa­ter in one vil­lage in Borno, he said, urg­ing lo­cals to be on their guard.

Lon­don-based Amnesty has pre­vi­ously called for more to be done to pro­tect civil­ians in the con­flict, which since 2009 has killed at least 17,000 and left more than two mil­lion home­less, mainly in Nige­ria.

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