Over 1,000 Nigerian soldiers killed by the Boko Haram insurgents have been buried unceremoniously in a secret graveyard at Maimalari town in Borno State, a report by America’s Wall Street Journal disclosed.
“The bodies of these dead soldiers are laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers who are usually paid a few dollars per shift,” the report said.
Also, according to some anonymous Nigerian soldiers, diplomats and a senior government official, after dark, the bodies of these soldiers are covertly transported from a mortuary that at times gets so crowded and the corpses are delivered by truck.
“Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” said a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based.
“They are dying and being deleted from history.”
The secret graveyard at Maimalari isn’t the only one in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, the senior government official said.
“…The sprawling secret graveyard in Maiduguri and an official cemetery at the base, the operational command for the northeastern front in Borno State, now hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began an offensive last summer, according to soldiers and military officials—some of whom estimated a far higher death toll,” the report said.
As the secret cemetery at the Maimalari barracks grows, the military has expanded the site into neighbouring fields.
“The farmland has been fenced off so they can bury the forces,” said Sarah James, a 50-year-old farmer whose husband is a retired soldier.
The reality is that Africa’s largest land force—a U.S. counterterrorism ally—is struggling against an insurgency that first flared a decade ago and is now rejuvenated by Islamic State and the return of fighters from Libya, Syria and Iraq.
The insurgents now control hundreds of square miles of territory across four countries around the Lake Chad basin, a crossroads of Africa where U.S., U.K. and French militaries have bases or offer special-forces training.