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Amnesty blames military for Baga attack

Amnesty blames military for Baga attack
January 28
15:37 2015

The Nigerian military got prior warnings of Boko Haram attacks on Baga and Monguno in Borno state, Amnesty International (AI) has revealed.

The Baga attack as described as possibly the deadliest in the history of Boko Haram carnage, while the sect reportedly seized Monguno on Monday after a fierce battle with Nigerian troops.

However, Nigerian troops warded off the terror group in Maiduguri and Konduga.

“Commanders at the military base at Baga regularly informed the military headquarters in November and December 2014 of the threat of a Boko Haram attack and repeatedly requested reinforcements,” the human rights watchdog quoted a senior military source as saying.

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“Other military sources and witnesses have told Amnesty International that the military in Monguno had an advanced warning of the Boko Haram attack on 25 January.

Netsanet Belay, the organsiation’s Africa director, said it was clear from the evidence that Nigeria’s military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram.

“These attacks are an urgent wake-up call for the Nigerian leadership, the African Union and the international community. It is essential to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians in north east Nigeria from Boko Haram’s continued onslaught,” Belay said.

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AI quoted another senior military source as disclosing that the Multinational Joint Task Force at Baga had informed Nigeria’s military authorities that it sighted Boko Haram patrols, but no action was taken.

“According to a senior military source, long before the attack on Baga, the Multinational Joint Task Force based in the town informed military headquarters in Abuja about sightings of Boko Haram patrols and build-ups of Boko Haram fighters. They also told headquarters ahead of the attacks, that civilians in surrounding towns and villages were fleeing the area in large numbers,” it said in statement published on its website.

“Speaking about the attack on Baga, Dogon Baga and surrounding towns and villages, one military source told Amnesty International: ‘This attack was expected because Boko Haram warned the inhabitants of Baga and surrounding villages almost two months ago that they would be coming to attack the troops and the civilian JTF.’

“Sources told Amnesty International that after the Baga attack on 3 January, Boko Haram members informed locals that their “next target is Monguno,’ and that these civilians informed the local military.

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“One Monguno resident told Amnesty International: ‘There was a warning. Everyone was aware. Boko Haram came on Wednesday last week (21 January) and asked the villagers [in nearby Ngurno] to leave because they are coming to attack the barracks. The villagers told the soldiers.”

The group urged the Nigerian government to take charge of protecting its citizens, especially those in the crisis axis of the country.

“Nigerian authorities have a responsibility to take all feasible measures to protect the civilian population, including by assisting with an evacuation of those who wished to flee and transporting them to safer areas. They also have a responsibility to inform civilians of risks and dangers,” it added.

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