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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Ashes and death: What Boko Haram left behind in Baga

Baga town

 The main market in Baga is now empty and scarred by fire

The Nigerian military took BBC crews  to towns taken back from Boko Haram in the north-east.

Some are almost impossible to reach by road because the insurgents have blown up bridges.

From one town to another, Boko Haram fighters have left their imprint of destruction - the charred remains of market places, homes, government buildings and farms.

Signboards have been painted over in black and replaced with Boko Haram insignia and inscriptions in Arabic.

"Thank you! Thank you!" a group of women chant as they praise the soldiers who reclaimed their town, Doron Baga, from Boko Haram.

They are the few people we found in the area. Most others fled after possibly the worst insurgent attack yet in the region.

It has been suggested that during the January attack, Boko Haram killed hundreds, possibly more - and then set fire to dozens of buildings.

'Those bastards kill men'

Now the town is deserted. At the main market area, blackened-out shells have replaced what would have been busy shops.

Mangled motorcycles litter the streets, their tyres blown out. Decomposing bodies lie by the roadside and fill the air with the stench of death.
Blackened sign in Michika

Signs - such as this one in the town of Michika - were painted over by Boko Haram fighters

A group of women take shade under a tree away from the scorching heat. "Boko Haram fighters killed my sister," one tells me.

"We attempted to leave three times for Maiduguri but the militants threatened to shoot us. They hardly fed us and we were very hungry. But when the soldiers liberated us, they gave us some food."

Despite the successes of the military, many of the reclaimed towns are empty. Only small groups of women, children and the elderly can be found.

Abubakar Ali is one of the few young men around. He had a fractured leg and could not run away when insurgents attacked Monguno town.

"My grandmother hid me under the bed," he says. "They don't touch women, especially old women, but those bastards kill men. They came searching but they didn't find any man in the house so they left."
Mubi town from the air

A view of Mubi from above reveals a town without residents

Even Mubi town, a major commercial centre in Adamawa State, is largely deserted, except for the troops on patrol.
"I would plead with the people of Mubi," says the town's traditional Muslim leader, Emir Abubakar Ahmadu. "Come back home so that we develop Mubi more than ever before."

Source: BBC 

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