Satellite images made available by Amnesty International Wednesday show the “horrific scale” of destruction Boko Haram left in the wake of their largest and latest attack on Nigeria — the Jan. 3 Baga massacre that reportedly left up to 2,000 dead.
The defense ministry has the number slaughtered in the attack down to hundreds, but residents who lost family members have told reporters that the number is in the thousands. Because the Islamic militant group, whose name roughly translates to ‘western education is a sin,’ is said to still be occupying the area, it’s impossible to verify those numbers.
What is known is that the attack left more than 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed, according to the rights group. The before-and-after satellite images detail that destruction — the above photograph, taken on Jan. 2, shows a stark difference in landscape when compared with the below photo, taken four days after the attack. The rights group said the images “provide indisputable and shocking evidence” of the widespread destruction in Baga and neighboring village of Doron Baga.
“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group. If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.
“We are currently working to find out more details of what happened during the attack on Baga and the surrounding area. This attack reiterates the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks,” he added.
On Wednesday, the military reportedly conducted an airstrike outside the town of Biu, dispersing Boko Haram fighters who had stormed the town. The airstrike comes as President Goodluck Jonathan prepares for the presidential election next month — a move critics have blasted the politician for, claiming he is more interested in campaigning than dealing with Boko Haram.
Click here to see more satellite imagery.