Abuja - The Boko Haram sect has killed at least 2 053 civilians in an estimated 95 attacks since the beginning of the year, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
The international rights body said the figures were based on detailed analyses of media reports as well as field investigations.
It said the killings and other abuses were part of widespread attacks on civilians in more than 70 towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria, in the federal capital, Abuja, and elsewhere that are apparent crimes against humanity.
The bulk of the attacks and casualties credibly reported and investigated by Human Rights Watch took place in Borno State, the birthplace of Boko Haram, where 1 446 people died. Attacks killed 151 in Adamawa State and 143 civilians in Yobe State.
Since January, at least 432 people have been reported killed in 14 blasts in crowded marketplaces, a brothel, a technical college, and, on two occasions, places where people were watching soccer matches.
Three of these attacks were in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, two in Kano, two in Jos, the Plateau state capital and three in Abuja, the federal capital.
The Abuja attacks may demonstrate a southward trend of Boko Haram operations, HRW added.
There has been a dramatic increase during 2014 in the numbers of casualties from bomb blasts, including several apparent suicide bombings.
“Boko Haram is effectively waging war on the people of northeastern Nigeria at a staggering human cost,” said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at HRW.
“Atrocities committed as part of a widespread attack on civilians are crimes against humanity, for which those responsible need to be held to account,” he added.
HRW said it compiled the figures by analyzing credible local and international media reports findings of human rights groups, as well as interviewing witnesses and victims of numerous attacks.
The media reports generally quoted villagers, hospital and morgue workers, police and military officials, and local leaders who had observed, registered, counted or buried the dead.
In the vast majority of cases, Boko Haram forces appeared to deliberately target civilians.
Since 2009, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, as Boko Haram is known, has waged a violent campaign against the government to impose its authority under Sharia (Islamic) law.
The pace of attacks has dramatically intensified in remote villages since May 2013, when the federal government imposed a state of emergency in the northern states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.
In many of the attacks Boko Haram gunmen fired on civilians, such as people gathered in busy marketplaces, places of worship, and residential neighborhoods.
In three villages in Gwoza Local Government Area, Borno State, in early June, Boko Haram fighters impersonated military personnel to round up hundreds of villagers, then opened fire on them, media reports said.
– CAJ News
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