Bodies are littered across the northern Nigerian town of Bama, captured two days ago by terror group Boko Haram, because the militants are reportedly preventing people from burying the dead.
“So many bodies litter the streets, and people are not allowed to even go and bury the dead ones. So the situation is getting worse and worse,” Borno senator and lawmaker Ahmed Zanna told the BBC’s Newsday program after speaking to a resident who fled the town.
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Government officials had initially denied that the town had fallen, but said that close to 26,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Bama.
Boko Haram has taken control of a number of towns and villages in Nigeria, targeting Christians and anyone who stands in its way of establishing Islamic rule over the country.
The Nigeria Security Network reported earlier this week that the terror group has made “lightning territorial gains” in recent months, and has raised fears that Nigeria could follow the fate of Iraq and Syria, which have been devastated by ISIS, or the Islamic State, as it is also known.
Zanna revealed that the humanitarian situation in Bama is “terrible” and there had been a “lot of killings” in the town.
He also warned that the situation could get worse if Boko Haram attacks the 2 million strong city of Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno.
“I’m begging the government to send more troops and armoury to Maiduguri,” Zanna said.
“Boko Haram do come overwhelmingly because they recruited en masse in the villages [in Borno state],” he added.
The Nigeria Security Network’s Andrew Noakes added in a report on Tuesday: “Boko Haram are beginning to operate like a conventional army, a major change from before July, when it focused on carrying out short-lived hit-and-run assaults.
“If Maiduguri falls, it will be a symbolic and strategic victory unparalleled so far in the conflict.”
The Islamic militant group declared an “Islamic Caliphate” in the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza in August, mirroring the actions of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but it is not clear if and to what extent the two terror groups are aligned.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a 52-minute video, which also shows the execution of civilians.
Human Rights Watch announced in July that the extremist group had killed at least 2,053 civilians in over 95 attacks during the first half of 2014 alone, though that number has risen over the summer. HRW added that Boko Haram has committed “atrocities” which constitute “crimes against humanity.”
International Christian Concern Regional Manager for Africa Cameron Thomas said that “far too many” Christians have been “martyred, displaced, and terrorized at the hands of armed extremist.”
“For years, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror against Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and law enforcement and military personnel for the establishment of a separate Islamic state; which, today, they felt capable of declaring,” Thomas said about the capture of Gwoza.
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