#BBCtrending: The Nigerians 'killed like insects' in Borno

  • 19 February 2014
A woman wipes away tears at a refugee camp for people displaced by violence in Borno state, Nigeria Image copyright Reuters

Over the past few days, more than 100 people have been killed in two horrific attacks by militants in Nigeria - prompting the hashtag #BornoMassacre. It's an attempt to alert Nigerians, and the world, to what is happening.

"People are being killed like cattle and it's as if nobody seems to care," says Sam Hart, a journalist in Abuja, and one of the creators of the hashtag #BornoMassacre. "Human beings, Nigerians like us, have died." Hart and a few of his friends on Twitter, started the hashtag on Tuesday in a deliberate attempt to get it trending - hoping that public pressure will encourage the federal government to take more action. It has been used about 2,800 times so far.

The most recent attacks were in the villages of Izghe and Bama in the state of Borno, in the north east of Nigeria - both are blamed on Boko Haram, an Islamist group that wants to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. More than 2,000 people have been killed by the insurgency since 2009. Many of the tweets are angry. One says innocent people are being "killed like insects" - "to sit back and allow it is an international disgrace".

But much of the attention is focused on the federal government in Nigeria - and its perceived lack of focus on the violence. Ahmed Rufai, another of the people who first got the hashtag going, says the government in Abuja has a taken a "lackadaisical attitude". He and many others want an official statement condemning the violence, and a promise of action. To date, the official government response to these attacks has been to say they are "winning the war". A large slice of the national budget is spent on the military.

Little information is coming out on social media from the state of Borno itself. For several months, all internet and mobile phone signals were cut in an attempt to stop Boko Haram from organising further attacks. That ban has been lifted now, but most people are too afraid to use social media, says Ahmadu, one of the few people who is tweeting from the state. "I hardly sleep at night, I expect to be attacked any moment. That's how everyone feels here. No-one is safe."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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