Satellite images of the recent Boko Haram attacks reveal just how devastating and destructive the attacks really were, causing the Nigerian government’s report of only about 150 deaths to seem highly implausible.
Amnesty International released satellite images of the two Nigerian towns that were recently attacked by Boko Haram—Baga and Doron Baga.
Color-coded indicators on the before and after photos revealed mass destruction and corroborated the accounts of eyewitnesses.
Those who managed to safely flee the area said they believed as many as 2,000 people were killed between January 3 and January 7.
In the images, nearly 4,000 structures were obliterated or severely damaged in that short amount of time.
“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,” Daniel Eyre, an Amnesty researcher, said in a statement. “It represents a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out ruins.”
Despite such widespread destruction, Nigeria’s government insists that only about 150 people were killed, with many of them being militants.
While the images are certainly no sure indicator of how many people were killed, many find it hard to believe that nearly two entire towns were burned to the ground and only 150 people were killed in the chaos.
Limited access to the area has made it impossible for anyone to issue an official death toll but Amnesty’s Adotei Akwei believes the Nigerian government’s estimates are “grossly understating” how many lives were probably taken.
One man told Amnesty that he alone “saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga,” the BBC reported.
He added that as he began fleeing, “they were shooting and killing.”
That doesn’t even account for the amount of deaths in Doron Baga.
One witness told the BBC that they saw many small children and women being killed and even more being captured.
“Boko Haram took around 300 women and kept us in a school in Baga,” one woman said, according to Amnesty. “They released the older women, mothers and most of the children after four days but are still keeping the younger women.”
There has been a surge of violent attacks from Boko Haram recently but the latest attacks were described by Amnesty as the largest and deadliest that the group has ever analyzed.
The surge in deadly attacks comes at a troubling time as the country is gearing up for elections.
Many fear that the terroristic group, which is adamantly opposed to democracy and considers it to be blasphemous, will launch more violent attacks to disrupt elections.
It’s a catastrophic situation that deserves attention from the same global powers that took to the streets of Paris to march together in the midst of terrorist attacks there.