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U.S. reveals various atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram, ISWAP

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The Department of State of the United States has catalogued various atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province [ISWAP] militants/ terrorists in the North Eastern part of the country.

The catalogue was contained in the executive summary of a report titled “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria” released earlier in the week.

The report reads:

The insurgency in the Northeast by the militant terrorist groups Boko Haram and the ISIS-WA continued.

The groups conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction of property, the internal displacement of more than two million persons, and external displacement of approximately 300,000 Nigerian refugees as of September 30.

Killings: Units of the NA’s Seventh Division, the NPF, and the DSS carried out operations against the terrorist groups Boko Haram and ISIS-WA in the Northeast.

There were reports of military forces committing extrajudicial killings of suspected members of the groups.

Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacked population centers, security personnel, and international organization and NGO personnel and facilities in Borno State.

Boko Haram also conducted attacks in Adamawa, while ISIS-WA attacked targets in Yobe.

These groups targeted anyone perceived as disagreeing with the groups’ political or religious beliefs or interfering with their access to resources.

While Boko Haram no longer controlled as much territory as it did in 2016, the two insurgencies nevertheless maintained the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the Northeast.

Both groups carried out attacks through roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs). ISIS-WA maintained the ability to carry out effective complex attacks on military positions, including those in population centers.

On November 28, suspected Boko Haram terrorists killed at least 76 members of a rice farming community in Zabarmari, Borno State. Some of those killed were beheaded.

Boko Haram continued to employ indiscriminate person-borne improvised explosive device (PIED) attacks targeting the local civilian populations. Women and children were forced to carry out many of the attacks.

According to a 2017 study by UNICEF, children, forced by Boko Haram, carried out nearly one in five PIED attacks.

More than two-thirds of these children were girls. Boko Haram continued to kill scores of civilians suspected of cooperating with the government.

ISIS-WA increased attacks and kidnappings of civilians and continued to employ acts of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to expand its area of influence and gain control over critical economic resources.

As part of a violent campaign, ISIS-WA also targeted government figures, traditional leaders, international organization and NGO workers, and contractors.

In multiple instances ISIS-WA issued “night letters” or otherwise warned civilians to leave specific areas and subsequently targeted civilians who failed to depart. During its attacks on population centers, ISIS-WA also distributed propaganda materials.

On June 13, suspected ISIS-WA militants attacked the village of Felo, Borno State, killing dozens of civilians.

Abductions: In previous years Human Rights Watch documented cases where security forces forcibly disappeared persons detained for questioning in conflict areas, but there were no reports of such cases during the year.

Boko Haram conducted mass abductions of men, women, and children, often in conjunction with attacks on communities. The group forced men, women, and children to participate in military operations on its behalf.

Those abducted by Boko Haram were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and forced religious conversions. Women and girls were subjected to forced marriage and sexual abuse, including rape and sexual slavery.

Most female PIED bombers were coerced in some form and were often drugged. Boko Haram also used women and girls to lure security forces into ambushes, force payment of ransoms, and leverage prisoner exchanges.

While some NGO reports estimated the number of Boko Haram abductees at more than 2,000, the total count of the missing was unknown since abductions continued, towns repeatedly changed hands, and many families were still on the run or dispersed in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Many abductees managed to escape Boko Haram captivity, but precise numbers remained unknown.

Approximately half of the students abducted by Boko Haram from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in 2014 remained in captivity.

Leah Sharibu remained the only student from the 2018 kidnapping in Dapchi in ISIS-WA captivity, reportedly because she refused to convert to Islam from Christianity.

The report continues:

“Boko Haram engaged in widespread sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.

Those who escaped, or whom security services or vigilante groups rescued, faced ostracism by their communities and had difficulty obtaining appropriate medical and psychosocial treatment and care.

In 2019 Boko Haram kidnapped a group of women and cut off their ears in retaliation for perceived cooperation with Nigerian and Cameroonian military and security services.


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