ICC Note: The scale of horror that militant Islamists Boko Haram perpetrates is often more than meets the eye. When military forces liberated the northern Nigerian town of Damasak, they discovered gruesome piles of corpses under a bridge totaling nearly 100 victims. But now more than one month later, as the Damasak river has dried up, up to 400 more bodies were uncovered and decomposed who were likely victims of Boko Haram thrown into the river after being killed. Boko Haram regularly targets Christians for murder, forced conversion, kidnapping, and sexual atrocities in northern Nigeria.
4/28/15 Damasak, Nigeria (AllAfrica) – Hundreds of people have been found dead in the northeast town of Damasak, in Borno apparently victims of Boko Haram insurgents, residents and officials said on Monday.
“Dead bodies were found in houses, streets and many more in the Damasak River which has dried up,” said local man Kaumi Kusur, adding the victims were buried in 20 mass graves at the weekend.
Mohammed Sadiq, another local who helped in the burials on Saturday, put the death toll at more than 400 but the Borno state government did not state a precise figure, giving a toll of “hundreds”.
Troops from Chad and Niger retook Damasak from Boko Haram on March 9 as part of a regional offensive to combat the militants, who captured the town in November last year.
A Chadian security source said at the time that some 200 rebel fighters were killed in the offensive as well as 10 soldiers.
On March 20, Chadian army spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa Agouna said about 100 bodies were found in a mass grave under a bridge just outside Damasak. Some had been decapitated while others shot.
Agouna estimated that the massacre probably occurred in January.
In the latest discovery, Sadiq said the bodies had been covered by sand from the encroaching desert.
“We were mobilised by the state authorities to bury them and we did it accordingly. The bodies include those of women and children as well as agile men,” he added.
Kusur said the bodies discovered from Thursday last week “far outnumbered” those found in March when the town was liberated.