Up to 2,000 Nigerians are feared dead after terrorist group Boko Haram invaded and massacred the town of Baga in what Amnesty International is calling “Boko Haram’s deadliest attack in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group.”
Time reports that last week, the Islamist militant group stormed both Baga and 16 surrounding villages, releasing rounds of gunfire, throwing grenades and burning homes to the ground, forcing the locals to flee on foot into the surrounding bush. District head Baba Abba Hassan reports that victims appear to be children, women and the elderly who were unable to escape quickly enough.
“If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as 2,000 civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
The attack comes only a week after Boko Haram opened fire and seized control of an international military base also in Baga. Reports suggest that the extremists raided Baga to subjugate the village’s ongoing support of the government.
Elections are to be held in a mere five weeks, and government officials are preparing for bloodshed, depending on results. Attempting to overthrow the Nigerian government, Boko Haram has been attacking locals for nearly four years, including last spring’s kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls, who still haven’t been located. Recent attacks by the group are aimed to instill a climate of fear before the elections. Although the government could see low voter turnout this year, though there are no plans to cancel February’s elections.