(Vatican Radio) The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says it is battling to get information on a number of ruthless attacks against civilians in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Baga due to a lockdown in the area.
Listen to the report by Peter Kenny:
A UN official says the fact that young girls may have been forced to carry out the attack is “morally repugnant” and “an egregious form of child exploitation”.
“We deeply deplore the vicious, ruthless attacks against civilians in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Baga, where Boko Haram has reportedly been operating since January 3,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the human rights commissioner.
“While the exact details remain unclear, what is fairly certain is that mass killings and mass forced displacement have occurred,” she continued. “The deliberate targeting of civilians is clearly prohibited by international law and we are very concerned at reports that there were children and elderly people among the victims.”
Amnesty International had reported 2,000 people had been killed in the attack. Though the Nigerian government has since revised the death toll to 150.
“The killings at marketplaces in Maidugiri, also in Borno State, and in Potiskum, in Yobe State, are particularly shocking given reports that girls, possibly one as young as 10, may have been forced to carry out the attack,” said Shamdasani. “The use of a child to detonate a bomb is not only morally repugnant but constitutes an egregious form of child exploitation under international law.”
Shamdasani urged the government to act swiftly to restore law and order, while ensuring that security operations are conducted in line with international law.
The UN rights office is urging Nigerian authorities to create conditions for an effective investigation into the incidents, with a view to establishing the facts surrounding the killings.
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