By Adam Nossiter
The New York Times, November 2, 2012
"The spiral of violence in northern Nigeria took another deadly turn this week as security forces in the city of Maiduguri shot dead dozens of young men whom they accused of belonging to the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, according to hospital staff members, local journalists and a human rights activist there. Nigeria has waged a grinding, low-intensity war with the sect since 2009, with nearly 3,000 people killed by Boko Haram or soldiers and the police, rights groups say. This week's violence in the war's center, Maiduguri, where Boko Haram was created, added to that toll. At least 39 people, and possibly as many as 70, were killed in raids by the Nigerian Army and the police late Wednesday and early Thursday, the second such deadly assault by security forces in less than a month. As in previous raids, security forces descended on the city's poorer neighborhoods under cover of darkness, entering houses and grabbing young men -- indiscriminately, critics contend -- and then shooting them. 'They accused the young persons of being Boko Haram members, with no evidence,' said Maikaramba Sadiq, an activist with Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organization. 'In the presence of parents, they killed the children,' he said. 'They told the parents to turn back and look in a different direction, then they killed the children. This is military criminality,' Mr. Sadiq argued. 'They killed people without any evidence of offense.' Mr. Sadiq said at least 70 people were killed, ranging in age from 18 to 25. Hospital workers in Maiduguri said about 39 bodies had been deposited at their hospital. There was no immediate comment from the Nigerian military on Friday.
Maiduguri, a city of more than a million people in Nigeria’s remote northeastern corner, near the border with Chad, has seen a perpetual cycle of attack and retribution by Boko Haram and security forces since the authorities carried out a bloody assault on the sect's headquarters in the summer of 2009, killing hundreds, including the group's leader. The violence is most acute in Maiduguri, but nearly every city in the populous north has been affected. On Sunday, a suicide bomber attacked a church in Kaduna, just north of the capital, Abuja. Seven were killed, hundreds were wounded and reprisal killings of Muslims followed. ... Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have released reports recently saying that the country's security services ... randomly kill civilians with no apparent connection to Boko Haram. The reports have either been ignored or angrily denied by officials. Security forces 'have killed hundreds of Boko Haram suspects and random members of communities,' even gunning down men on crutches, Human Rights Watch said in its recent report. Amnesty International detailed one episode in which security forces opened fire on customers and workers at a filling station in Kano, killing a number of them. The station happened to be near a police station that had been attacked. These acts are carried out with near total impunity. Nigeria's political elite, far from condemning them, invariably defend the security forces' conduct. [...]"