MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Extremist group Boko Haram was cited as perpetrators of an attack on Nigerian soldiers that resulted in the killing of an Army officer and a number of civilians as well. The incident prompted a military operation in Baga town of Borno State recently, with inflated reports quoted by major media outlets alleging at least 200 dead, and at least 10,000 people having lost their homes in the violence.
The Nigerian government announced that the inaccuracies and exaggerations are how the western media reported the outcome of t he fi refight w hich military authorities said began as troops surrounded a mosque that was utilized by Boko Haram’s Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad.
A government press release stated: “While preliminary briefings indicate that the casualty figures being reported by the foreign media may be grossly exaggerated, President Jonathan assures Nigerians and the global community that the Federal Government of Nigeria places the highest possible value on the lives of all citizens of the country and that his administration will continue to do everything possible to avoid the killing or injuring of innocent bystanders in security operations against terrorists and insurgents,” official spokesperson Mr. Reuben Abati said.
The Defence Headquarters in Abuja said it could confirm the death of only 26 people including the deceased soldier, saying the violence happened when gunmen attacked residents of Baga town and security forces moved in after receiving a report.
A consistent practice of ‘media terrorism’ is to grossly inflate numbers of victims as a means to ignite anger and hatred that could result in sectarian violence. Similarly, a statement presently being broadcast across the internet is that “1,000 Christians have been killed in their homes and churches in Nigeria”. Oddly, the exact figure (and identical wording) also appeared in reference to alleged ‘massacres’ in Iraq, Syria and Egypt.
Material for this report obtained from The Daily Trust/ Y. Ibrahim, I. Wakili, and M. Bashar