Retreating Boko Haram murdered ‘wives’: UN human rights chief

The UN’s human rights chief has said his office has received reports that Boko Haram fighters retreating from advancing military forces in Nigeria murdered women and girls they had taken as “wives”, along with other captives.

The recapture of parts of north-eastern Nigeria in recent weeks “has brought to light gruesome scenes of mass graves and further evident signs of slaughter by Boko Haram”, Zeid Raad al-Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Mr Zeid gave no further details of what he said were multiple reports of fighters killing “their so-called ‘wives’ — in fact, women and girls held in slavery — and other captives”.

Boko Haram’s reported use of children as “expendable cannon fodder” and human bombs would constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said.

Mr Zeid said there also are “persistent and credible reports” of serious rights violations by Nigerian and other security forces responding to Boko Haram. He called for “thorough and fully transparent investigations” by authorities.

The Islamic extremist militants have terrorised northern Nigeria and also attacked towns in neighbouring countries, prompting nations in the region including Chad and Niger to put together a force to combat them.

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