We deeply deplore the vicious, ruthless attacks against civilians in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga, where Boko Haram has reportedly been operating since 3 January. While the exact details remain unclear, what is fairly certain is that mass killings and mass forced displacement have occurred. The deliberate targeting of civilians is clearly prohibited by international law and we are very concerned at reports that there were children and elderly people among the victims.
The killings at marketplaces in Maidugiri, also in Borno State, and in Potiskum, in Yobe State, are particularly shocking given reports that girls, possibly one as young as 10, may have been forced to carry out the attack. The use of a child to detonate a bomb is not only morally repugnant but constitutes an egregious form of child exploitation under international law.
We urge the Government to act swiftly to restore law and order, while ensuring that security operations are conducted in line with international law and full respect for human rights. We also urge Nigerian authorities to redouble their efforts to create conditions for an effective investigation into the incidents, with a view to establishing the facts surrounding the killings and holding the perpetrators accountable.