Video shows troops slitting Boko Haram suspects' throats

Lagos - Footage obtained by human rights group Amnesty International and released on Tuesday appears to show Nigerian soldiers slitting the throats of Boko Haram suspects and dumping their bodies in a mass grave.

Nigeria's military is battling an increasingly vicious Islamist insurgency by Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of religiously mixed Nigeria. But its forces frequently come repeatedly under fire for human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings they usually deny.

It was not possible to independently verify the video, which also includes images of suspects being pulled off the back of trucks and beaten by soldiers and allied civilian militias.

Amnesty said the extrajudicial killings occurred shortly after Boko Haram's attack on a detention centre in Giwa Barracks, in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, on 14 March.

Nigerian Defence spokesperson Major-General Chris Olukolade, who normally bristles at suggestions of abuses by Nigerian soldiers, said in at statement that "the military authorities view these grave allegations very seriously.

"Much as the scenes depicted in this video are alien to our operations and doctrines, it has to be investigated to ensure that such practices have not crept, surreptitiously, into the system," Olukolade said.

He emphasised that such behaviour would be counter to the training Nigerian troops are given.

"That level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military. Respect for the sanctity of life is always boldly emphasized in our doctrinal training," he said.

In the most gruesome of the videos, suspects are kept to one side while graves are dug. Then the grave is shown half-full of bodies. A half-naked man is pulled from a truck and held down while a man in military uniform slices his neck open with a combat knife, hurling his body into the pit.

The scene is repeated with another suspect on the same bloodied patch at the edge of grave.

The footage comes a week after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video of his fighters beheading a Nigerian soldier - a standard practice for the militants. Amnesty's report also shows the aftermath of a Boko Haram attack on a village that the rights group said had killed 100 people.

Amnesty said 4 000 people had been killed in the conflict this year.

A military operation since May last year has aimed to crush the rebels. But they have proved remarkably resilient and have struck back in attacks that increasingly target the civilian population, killing hundreds.

"This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict ... what does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?" said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary general.

"Numerous testimonies we have gathered suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military," she added.

Rights groups argue that such acts by the military are not only wrong but counter-productive, as they fuel much of the anger that has helped drive the insurgency over the past five years. It is also a primary reason cited by US and British forces for not giving Nigeria more counter-insurgency support.

Boko Haram was a largely non-violent clerical movement against Western culture until the killing of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, in police custody transformed it into a full- scale armed rebellion.

Olukolade said forensic experts would study the footage "in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind such acts. This will ... stimulate necessary legal action against any personnel or anyone found culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law."

- Reuters
Leigh-Rose Jenkins 2014-08-05 08:33:32 AM
Damned if you do, damned if you don't...
Arie Vd Plaats 2014-08-05 08:42:48 AM
Although it is very BARBARIC, the maxim "you live by the sword, you die by the sword" does still exist. I cannot raise any sympathy for Boko Haram members.
David Van Schalkwyk 2014-08-05 09:31:29 AM
I actually don't feel a thing... How many innocent women and children and even men have Boko Haram decapitated along the way... Do onto others as you will have them do onto you...
Bryan Musso 2014-08-05 09:32:53 AM
What I don't get is that, when Boko Haram does atrocities, it's almost expected and we go meh, terrorists, barbarians, pretend gasp. But when a supposedly democratic military does this, we are appalled. This is why terrorists are going to win. The West is becoming the fat "civilised" Romans, just before the fall of the Roman empire... At the time barbarians started raiding and they had become too soft to respond... Guess what history says happened next!?
NoAbsolutes 2014-08-05 10:30:50 AM
"It was not possible to independently verify the video" So how do we know it isn't Boko Haram propaganda?
Nhlapo Phoka Ngoana Mosotho 2014-08-05 12:21:40 PM
Can Ebola attach this Boko Haram Group. we heard enough.
David Jonnes 2014-08-05 03:42:51 PM
These are Islamist groups who are killing raping and burning homes in Africa.Burning churches and villages and kidnapping young women.Is this acceptable by the muslim fanatics around the world?No one cares about the 1000's killed for no reason yet all are ready to boycott COKE AND Cream soda from Woolworths.No worries as fizzy drinks will increase the gas in their already polluted systems
azubi.more 2014-08-19 01:59:18 AM
If any boko haram member is cought,,they should not waste time to kill the idiot.