Sept. 7 (UPI) — An increase in suicide bombings by the Boko Haram militant group doubled the number of civilian deaths in Cameroon and Nigeria since April when compared to the previous five months, Amnesty International said.
The human rights organization said Tuesday there has been a “spike” in bombings and a “sharp rise” in civilian deaths, particularly in the Far North region of Cameroon and the Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa.
“Boko Haram is once again committing war crimes on a huge scale, exemplified by the depravity of forcing young girls to carry explosives with the sole intention of killing as many people as they possibly can,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s director for West and Central Africa.
The attacks killed at least 223 civilians in Nigeria since April, including 100 in August alone. Officials believe the number may be higher because some attacks haven’t been reported. Boko Haram has killed 158 in Cameroon since April, many attributed to suicide attacks.
Tine said the increase in deaths highlights the “urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians.”
Amnesty International said the rise in attacks may be explained by the displacement of Boko Haram militants from the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria to the Mandara Mountains in Cameroon.
Boko Haram violence has resulted in the displacement of some 2.3 million people across the region, including 1.6 million internally displaced people in Nigeria and 303,000 in Cameroon. More than 7 million face serious food shortages and 515,000 children have severe acute malnutrition.
“The international community should also rapidly scale up its commitment to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the millions in the region who need it,” Tine said.