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Boko Haram Massacre Spied by Digital Globe Sensor

Peg Shippert

On Thursday, January 15 2015, suddenly one application of satellite imagery was all over the news. Not that CNNABCor any of the other big news outlets used the words "remote sensing",but that's what they were talking about. I first caught the story while listening to NPR in my car while running errands: Amnesty International had just released satellite images showing the impact of a horrific Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria.

The attack was the largest and most destructive perpetrated by Boko Haram so far, according to Amnesty International. And that's saying something. This is the group who carried out 115 attacks in 2011, killing 550 people. More recently, in April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno, most of whom have still not been released. The recent attack involved the deaths of up to 2000 people and damage to an estimated 3700 structures.

Even with the satellite imagery, it's hard to tell exactly how much destruction was involved, due to the densely packed structures and tree canopies. But it is possible to see in the imagery that thousands of thatch roof structures and surrounding areas were completely destroyed by fires.  The village of Doron Baga was "nearly wiped off the map" according to Amnesty International. CNN reported that this account matches eye witness statements, which describe desperate residents fleeing across Lake Chad.

Courtesy of Amnesty International. Copyright DigitalGlobe. Top: Image of Baga, North Eastern Nigeria, taken on January 2, 2015. Bottom: Image of Baga taken on January 7,2015, which shows many of the thatch roof structures have been razed. The dark color represents burned areas, while the red indicates healthy vegetation.

 

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