No fewer than 381 civilians have been killed by the terrorists group, Boko Haram, in the period of five months running from April.
The killings were carried out in Nigeria and Cameroon and they doubled the ones in the previous five months.
Amnesty International made this known in a statement it issued on Tuesday.
According to data collected by the organisation, a sharp rise in civilian deaths in the far North region of Cameroon and the Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa has been driven by Boko Haram’s use of suicide bombers.
With this, the terrorists use women and girls who are forced to carry explosives into crowded areas.
“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.
“This wave of shocking Boko Haram violence, propelled by a sharp rise in suicide bombings, highlights the urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians in the Lake Chad region. Governments in Nigeria, Cameroon and beyond must take swift action to protect them from this campaign of terror,” the director added.
Amnesty International broke the data down, saying, insurgency had, in Nigeria, in the period under review, killed at least 223 civilians since April.
It said although the real figure might be higher still as some attacks might have gone unreported.
It said between May and August, seven times’ more civilians were killed than in the preceding four months, while 100 civilians were killed in August alone.
The deadliest recent attack, according to Amnesty International, came on July 25, when the armed group shot dead 40 people and abducted three others in an ambush on an oil exploration team in the Magumeri area of Borno State.
“Boko Haram suicide bombers have killed at least 81 people in Nigeria since April, while 67 people have been abducted – mostly women and girls – since the start of the year.
“There have been two reports of raids on villages in August, in which Boko Haram fighters rounded up and shot civilians, burned down homes and stole from people’s houses, shops and markets,” it said.
On Cameroon, Amnesty International said Boko Haram had killed at least 158 civilians since April – four times more than in the preceding five months.
The recent spike in casualties, according to the group, had been driven by increased suicide attacks, with 30 – more than one per week – carried out since the beginning of April.
“The deadliest attack took place in Waza on 12 July, when 16 civilians were killed and at least 34 injured after a young girl was forced to carry and detonate a bomb in a crowded video game centre.
“The town of Kolofata, in the Mayo-Sava district, has been especially targeted with nine attacks since April. Mora, the second largest urban centre in the Far North region, has also been hit three times.
“The displacement of Boko Haram fighters from the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria to the Mandara Mountains in Cameroon, following operations conducted by the Nigerian military, may explain some of the increase in attacks in Cameroon,” Amnesty explained in the statement.
The group also drew attention to the need for help across the Lake Chad region, reasoning that millions of civilians were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance as a result of Boko Haram violence.
It said a total of 2.3 million people had been displaced across the region.
This includes 1.6 million internally displaced people and refugees in Nigeria and 303,000 in Cameroon.
Another 374,000 are displaced in Chad and Niger, the statement said.
It said more than seven million people across the region faced serious food shortages, including five million in Nigeria and 1.5 million in Cameroon.
It added that there were 515,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, more than 85% of them in Nigeria.
“The recent increase in insecurity has made humanitarian operations difficult, or even impossible, in some inaccessible areas of northeast Nigeria.
“Governments across the Lake Chad region must increase their efforts to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians at grave risk of being targeted by Boko Haram violence, abductions and abuses,” said Alioune Tine.