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Hundreds die in detention in Nigeria

Over 950 dead in first half of year

In this picture dated Friday, April. 19, 2013 and released by Amnesty International, people look at bodies of civilians detained by Nigerian security forces as alleged members or associates of Boko haram terrorist network deposited by soldiers outside Sani Abacha Teaching Hospital morgue in Damaturu. Hundreds of people are dying in military detention as Nigeria's security forces crack down on an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Some people are shot outright, some starve and others suffocate to death, it said."Others were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogations, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death," the London-based human rights group said in a new report that includes testimony from freed detainees. More than 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year, according to "credible information" from a senior Nigerian army officer, it said. If true, that would mean that Nigeria's military has killed more civilians than the extremists during the first half of 2013. AP photo

In this picture dated Friday, April. 19, 2013 and released by Amnesty International, people look at bodies of civilians detained by Nigerian security forces as alleged members or associates of Boko haram terrorist network deposited by soldiers outside Sani Abacha Teaching Hospital morgue in Damaturu. Hundreds of people are dying in military detention as Nigeria's security forces crack down on an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Some people are shot outright, some starve and others suffocate to death, it said."Others were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogations, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death," the London-based human rights group said in a new report that includes testimony from freed detainees. More than 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year, according to "credible information" from a senior Nigerian army officer, it said. If true, that would mean that Nigeria's military has killed more civilians than the extremists during the first half of 2013. AP photo

LAGOS, Nigeria — Hundreds of people are dying in military detention from shootings, suffocation or starvation as Nigeria’s security forces crack down on an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

More than 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year, according to “credible information” from a senior Nigerian army officer, the rights group said.

The Associated Press reported in August that hundreds of people detained by security forces in northern Nigeria have disappeared. The new Amnesty International report may help explain what happened to all those people.

Military and government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If the number of deaths in military custody cited by the Amnesty International is accurate, that means Nigeria’s military has killed more civilians than the extremists did during the first half of 2013.

Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation.

Detainees “were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogations, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death,” the London-based human rights group said in the report, which includes testimony from freed detainees.

Human rights activist Shehu Sani of the northern-based Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria told AP in August that he believes thousands had been detained.

Amnesty International said those killed were detained as suspected members or associates of Boko Haram, an armed Islamic extremist group that has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed hundreds of Muslim and Christian civilians this year in their mission to overturn democracy and force Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation which is almost equally divided between the predominantly Muslim north and mainly Christian south — to become an Islamic state.

Boko Haram itself routinely commits human rights abuses, gunning down schoolchildren, health workers, government officials, Christian pastors and moderate Muslim clerics.

Amnesty International said most of the deaths it documented at the hands of security forces took place at the Presidential Lodge guardroom and a detention center in Damaturu, and at Giwa Military Barracks in Maiduguri.

Amnesty International quoted a second senior army officer as saying: “Hundreds have been killed in detention either by shooting them or by suffocation. People are crammed into one cell. There are times when people are brought out on a daily basis and killed.”

Civilians in northeast Nigeria as well as refugees among more than 30,000 who have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger have told AP reporters that they fear Nigeria’s military as much as they do Boko Haram.

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