Amnesty international reported on Wednesday that over 7,000 men and boys have died while in the custody of the Nigerian army while being held on suspicion of involvement with Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s military was quick to respond to the report, stating that it was biased and that the statistics were “suspicious.”
The human rights monitor claims that the dead were among 20,000 people who were arrested in nationwide military operations targeting Boko Haram, adding that at least 17,000 people have died in the fight against the Boko Haram militant group since 2009.
Amnesty’s findings, if correct, would mean that 40 percent of those that died in the six years of conflict have died while in military custody.
The report comes after the start of a recent offensive by the Nigerian army backed by neighbouring countries Niger and Chad, leading to the recapture of most of the territory in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and forcing Boko Haram to retreat and seek other areas to capture.
Boko Haram has been fighting a six-year insurgency in a bid to establish a state of its own in northern Nigeria and other neighbouring territories, including areas surrounding Lake Chad. In the process it has killed thousands of people and caused about 1.5 million to flee their homes.