The Nigerian military has denied media reports that over 2, 000 people were killed in a terrorists attack in Baga community, Borno State, by extremist group, Boko Haram.
At a briefing Thursday, the Defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, said the number of people killed during massive onslaught by Boko Haram in Baga town on Friday Did not exceeded 150 – including terrorists.
“From all available evidences, the number of people who lost their lives during that attack has so far not exceeded about 150 in the interim. This figure includes many of the terrorists who were bearing arms and got killed in the course of their attack and battle with troops,” Mr. Olukolade said.
In earlier comments on Twitter Sunday, Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, had rejected the 2,000 figure as stated by Amnesty International.
He said no figure had been “creditably determined”.
“There were civilian casualties in Baga. No numbers creditably determined. We can’t count the Terrorists we killed too,” he tweeted. “We are mobilizing and regrouping to save Baga. We are fighting everywhere.”
Boko Haram seized Baga after driving out government forces and killing several civilians.
With soldiers ejected from the area, it is not clear how the military arrived at the figure about 24 hours after.
However, Mr. Olukolade said ongoing surveillance activities, and aerial operations which have yielded aerial photographs, do not support the 2,000 figure.
The defence spokesperson however urged the media to be cautious in accepting casualty figures given by witnesses he said are influenced by their own perspectives.
“Many were also able to escape while the terrorists’ battle with troops lasted. The figure given by sources who claim to be eye witnesses must be an extremely exaggerated estimate,” he said.
Mr. Olukolade said the hyped casualty report by the section of the media have been misinterpreted by many international bodies.
He reassured Nigerians that the Defence Headquarters has not given up on Baga or any part of the country where terrorists are marauding as appropriate plans, men and resources are presently being mobilized to address the situation.
Mr. Olukolade is not the only Nigerian official to dispute the figure in an attack, which Amnesty International said was a massacre.
Presidential spokesperson, Doyin Okupe, had via his Twitter handle said the figures were exaggerated.
Many Nigerians and the international community are doubtful of the figures provided by Nigerian authorities in an attack International Human Rights organisation, Amnesty International described as Boko Haram’s worst attack so far.
Many believe the Nigerian authorities are wont to downplay casualty figures in efforts to downplay the magnitude of attacks, as seen in previous attacks by Boko Haram.