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Graphic Video Implicates Nigerian Military in War Crimes While Battling Boko Haram

Amnesty International has released footage implicating both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military in war crimes.

by Jordan Larson
Aug 5 2014, 5:05pm

Image via AP Photo/Sunday Alamba

Islamist group Boko Haram has been waging a war on Nigeria's civilians and military since 2009, relying upon violent tactics and frequent kidnappings to make their presence felt in Africa's most populous country.

Now a video released by Amnesty International has implicated the Nigerian military in war crimes while fighting the insurgent group. In the video, alleged members of the Nigerian military and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) can be seen slitting the throats of detained men and throwing them into a mass grave.

In another part of the video, a group of men can be seen sitting in a line, while individuals are led to the side of a blood-spattered grave, held down, and prepared to have their throats slits by what appear to be Nigerian security forces.

Five African Countries Declare 'War' Against Boko Haram. Read more here.

"This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling disregard for humanity in north-eastern Nigeria, where war crimes are being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict," said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty in a press release. "The ghastly images are made worse by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF."

While the footage offers specific and grisly evidence of such crimes, it has not come as a surprise to experts.

"What the report does it provides greater precision for what anybody who's been watching Nigeria has known for a very long time, which is that the security forces are regularly committing human rights abuses in northeast Nigeria," John Campbell, Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told VICE News.

Campbell also pointed to the 2009 execution of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf by Nigerian security forces, which was deemed an extrajudicial killing by Human Rights Watch. That incident was also captured on video and subsequently went viral.

"We're not talking about anything here which is new," he said. "The Nigerian government continues to deny that such security abuses are occurring and is apparently taking no steps to curb them."

An email sent by VICE News to Borno state Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume was not immediately returned.

The video, which includes testimonies to Amnesty International staff members, also contains footage of a village in Borno state following a raid by Boko Haram that left nearly 100 dead.

According to Amnesty International, more than 4,000 have died in attacks by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military in the past year, most of them civilians.

#BringBackOurGirls Is Not Going to Stop Boko Haram. Read more here.

Follow Jordan Larson on Twitter: @jalarsonist