At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok school girls.
Based on nearly 200 witness accounts, including 28 with abducted women and girls who escaped captivity, a new 90-page report, 'Our Job is to Shoot, Slaughter and Kill': Boko Haram’s Reign of Terror, documents multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Boko Haram, including the killing of at least 5,500 civilians, as it rampaged across north-east Nigeria during 2014 and early 2015.
The Amnesty International report sheds new light on the brutal methods used by the armed group in north-east Nigeria where men and boys are regularly conscripted or systematically executed and young women and girls are abducted, imprisoned and in some cases raped, forcibly married and made to participate in armed attacks, sometimes on their own towns and villages.
The report contains graphic evidence, including new satellite images, of the scale of devastation that Boko Haram have left in their wake.
The 276 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok gained global attention with the help of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. But the missing schoolgirls are only a small proportion of the women, girls, young men and boys abducted by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram would take the women and girls they abducted directly to camps in remote communities or to makeshift transits camps such as one established in Ngoshe prison. From transit camps Boko Haram would move them to houses in towns and villages and indoctrinate them with their version of Islam in preparation for marriage.
Aisha, aged 19, spoke to Amnesty International about how she was abducted from a friend’s wedding in September 2014 along with her sister, the bride and the bride's sister. Boko Haram took them to a camp in Gullak, Adamawa state, home to approximately 100 abducted girls. One week later, Boko Haram forced the bride and the bride's sister to marry their fighters. They also taught Aisha and the other women and girls how to fight.
"They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village," Aisha told Amnesty International. "This training went on for three weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village."
Aisha said that during the three months that she was held captive, she was raped repeatedly, sometimes by groups of up to six fighters. She also saw more than 50 people killed by Boko Haram, including her sister. "Some of them refused to convert. Some refused to learn how to kill others. They were buried in a mass grave in the bush. They'll just pack the dead bodies and dump them in a big hole, but not deep enough. I didn't see the hole, but we used to get the smell from the dead bodies when they start getting rotten."
Since the start of 2014, Amnesty International documented at least 300 raids and attacks carried out by Boko Haram against civilians. During their attacks on towns, they would systematically target the military or police first, capturing arms and ammunition, before turning on the civilian population. They would shoot anyone trying to escape, rounding up and executing men of fighting age.
Ahmed and Alhaji, aged 20 and 18, were seated with other men, waiting for their throats to be cut after Boko Haram took over Madagali on 14 December 2014. Ahmed told Amnesty International that even though his instinct told him to run, he could not. "They were slaughtering them with knives. Two men were doing the killing...We all sat on the ground and waited our turn." Alhaji only managed to escape when a Boko Haram executioner's blade became too dull to slit more throats. "Before they got to my group, they killed 27 people in front of me. I was counting every one of them because I wanted to know when my turn would come." He said that at least 100 men who refused to join Boko Haram were executed in Madagali on that day.