World Bulletin/News Desk
Amnesty International asserted on Thursday that satellite imagery had revealed that Boko Haram's recent assaults on the northern Nigerian towns of Baga and Doron Baga caused massive destruction.
"These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in the two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days," Daniel Eyre, a Nigerian researcher for Amnesty, said in a new report.
"Of all Boko Haram assaults analyzed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet," he asserted.
"It represents a deliberate attack on civilians, whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt-out ruins," the researcher added.
Last week, Boko Haram militants staged a daring attack on the Multinational Joint Task Force stationed in Baga, a densely populated town located some 160km from Maiduguri, provincial capital of Borno State.
The attack has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
Amnesty said satellite images of Baga showed that 620 structures had been damaged or completely destroyed.
More than 3,100 structures, it added, had also been damaged or destroyed in Doron Baga, a town located 2.5km from Baga.
On Tuesday, William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said nearly 12,000 people had fled to neighboring Chad after the attack.
"Until now, Baga's isolation – combined with the fact that Boko Haram remains in control of the area – has made it very difficult to verify what happened," Eyre said.
"Residents have not been able to return to bury the dead, let alone count their number," he added.
"But through satellite images and graphic testimonies, a picture of what is likely to be Boko Haram's deadliest attack ever is becoming clearer," the researcher said.
For the last five years, Nigeria has battled a fierce Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the country's volatile northeast and claimed thousands of lives.
The year 2014 proved to be the insurgency's bloodiest year yet, with increasingly frequent attacks, higher death tolls and a deluge of displaced persons.
A seemingly emboldened Boko Haram recently stepped up its militant activity, seizing several areas of Nigeria's Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday that a total of 981,416 people had been displaced by the violence while as many as nine million had been "directly or indirectly affected."
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