Africa

Boko Haram 'raping our daughters' in Nigerian town of Baga

Baga before and after satellite images

Boko Haram carried out one of its deadliest attacks yet earlier this month, on the Nigerian town of Baga. It is difficult to verify the number of people killed but one woman who survived the attacks has told the BBC Hausa service about life in the town. She managed to escape from Baga and has asked to remain unnamed.

"Boko Haram fighters are currently in control of the town. When they attacked, they destroyed shops and burnt down our houses.

There are lots of bodies scattered on the street and some have started decomposing.

The militants gathered the old men who could not leave the town and some strong women and forced them to bury the corpses because of the stench - I saw all of this.

Under control

Many of the women could not escape during the attack and we were all brought with the old men to the palace of the traditional ruler.

I spent a week there.

In the mornings and evenings the insurgents would gather the women together and preach to them.


Boko Haram at a glance

Image copyright AFP
  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Controls several north-eastern towns
  • Launched attacks on Cameroon

Soldiers without weapons

Who are Boko Haram?

Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram


Two days after the attack, a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau [the leader of Boko Haram] came and addressed us. He said: "Today, where is your government from local to highest level? You are now under our control." And he preached to us.

After that, Shekau and many of the insurgents left the town in the hands of some Boko Haram members who are from Baga.

These men have taken control of the young women in the town. They rape and abuse our daughters.

In the evening they choose ones who are neither pregnant nor nursing mothers and take them away. They don't bring them back until the morning. If it is not rape what are they doing to them?

Marriage

But there are some young women who show interest in the Boko Haram militants and want to marry them. I saw about 25 of them who were having good relationships with them.

The Boko Haram fighters have also taken over the hospitals. In the mornings, the militants come and ask if there is any woman who is not feeling well and they take her to hospital.

They took away all the goods in the market before destroying it. I counted close to 20 vehicles full of goods from the market and they feed the women from this.

One day we begged the militants to let us go home to shower and change our dirty clothes.

Some of them agreed and escorted us to the house. They waited outside while we went in.

We then got out from the other end of the house and fled. That is how we escaped."

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