Extremist group Boko Haram has reportedly seized yet another major Nigerian town, killing at least 100 civilians in the process. Nigeria's Daily Post reports that Gwoza, one of the most populated areas in the northeastern Borno State, was seized by the group at dawn, who came in using armored tanks and Toyota Hilux pickup trucks. Local news agency Sahara Reporters says that the attack began at dawn, and the town was under Boko Haram control by late morning. Nigerian soldiers were reportedly outmatched by what SR calls, worryingly, Boko Haram's "increasingly sophisticated weaponry."
Men, women and children were targeted indiscriminately in the attack; the group also set shops and other buildings on fire and threw explosives at the local police. It's just the latest in the group's horrendous greatest-hits tour: the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls they kidnapped in April remain missing, and at the end of July they kidnapped the wife of the vice prime minister of Cameroon.
The Nigerian military isn't conducting itself so well either, using the fight against Boko Haram to engage in some extrajudicial killing of its own. Amnesty International said yesterday they have "gruesome" footage implicating the army in war crimes against civilians. The human rights organization says it obtained video and testimony from multiple sources, including "horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military," as well as the Civilian Joint Task Force, which Amnesty International calls a "state-sponsored militia."
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General called the killings "further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict."
And what of the missing schoolgirls? They're still unaccounted for, although a U.S. surveillance aircraft reportedly spotted what looked like "large groups of girls" in a remote northeastern part of the country.
One surveillance flight spotted roughly 70 girls in early July, while another flight saw 40 or so near the end of the month. Boko Haram has deployed several female suicide bombers in recent weeks, but Nigerian government officials have said they don't believe the schoolgirls are being used as human bombs.
[Photo of a Nigerian armored car patrolling in Maiduguri by Sunday Alamba of the Associated Press]