Nigeria's top military officers were warned of Boko Haram attacks on the northeast towns of Baga and Monguno this month but failed to take action, according to Amnesty International
The Jan. 3 massacre in Baga reportedly killed hundreds of people, if not more, and destroyed thousands of homes — Amnesty International called the destruction "catastrophic" — while the takeover of Monguno last weekend was seen as a major setback for the security forces.
Amnesty International said in a release on Wednesday that it received information from senior military officers and other sources indicating that defense officials were told about Boko Haram's plans to attack both towns but did not act on requests to send reinforcements.
"It is clear from this evidence that Nigeria's military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram," said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa director.
Amnesty International said troops in the town in the north of Borno state reported a build-up of fighters in the Baga area before the attack.
Rebels also warned civilians about an impending strike and several hundred residents consequently fled, the group added, citing military and local sources.
A Monguno resident was quoted as saying that residents there were also warned about a looming Boko Haram offensive and that this information was passed on to the military but no action was taken.
Nigerian government's defense spokesperson, said the Amnesty International's statement was "misleading."
"The misleading conclusions by Amnesty International could have been avoided if they had made meaningful efforts to verify the inciting allegations," he said.
The Nigerian military has repeatedly described Amnesty International as an unreliable organization with a political agenda.
Amnesty International made similar accusations concerning an April 14 attack in Chibok, also in Borno, in which saw Boko Haram kidnap more than 200 schoolgirls, causing global outrage.
Rights groups and prominent leaders across Nigeria have widely criticised the security services for their handling of the Boko Haram campaign.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who is standing for re-election in less than three weeks, has so far not delivered on promises to contain the violence.
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