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Stars on shoulders, blood on hands: Nigerian army accused of 8,000 murders

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Abuja: Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced the death of 8,000 people at the hands of the Nigerian army during the struggle with Boko Haram in the north of the country, calling the murders war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

In a report entitled “Stars on their Shoulders, Blood on their Hands: War Crimes Committed by the Nigerian Military,” released on Wednesday here, Amnesty collected testimonies and case-files documenting the use of torture, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detention of thousands of young people and children in the chaos following Boko Haram.

After the attacks of Boko Haram in the northeast stronghold of the terrorists, the army often launched “mop-up”, during which most of the killing took place.

“The highest levels of Nigeria’s military command, including the chief of army staff and chief of defence staff, were regularly informed of operations conducted in northeast Nigeria,” the report claimed.

The most serious case documented by the NGO took place on March 14, 2014 when the army killed more than 640 detainees who had fled the Giwa barracks after a terrorist attack.

An army veteran testified to orders he had received: “Soldiers go to the nearest place and kill all the youths. People killed may be innocent and not armed,” he told Amnesty.

According to the report, since 2009 at least 20,000 young people were arrested including children as young as nine years, and in most cases the arrests were arbitrary, since “almost none of those detained have been brought to court”.

The conditions in which the detainees were held were also discussed in the report: “Sometimes we drank people’s urine, but even the urine you at times could not get,” a former detainee told Amnesty.

“Hundreds have been killed in detention either (by soldiers) shooting them or by suffocation,” an official told the NGO.

The organisation called for an investigation to hold those responsible accountable, whether soldiers, mid-level or senior officers in the army.

“We call on newly-elected President Buhari to end the culture of impunity that has blighted Nigeria and for the African Union and international community to encourage and support these efforts.” (IANS)

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Nigerian Firm Apologizes for Google’s Glitch

Main One, which describes itself as a leading provider of telecom and network services for businesses in West Africa, said that it had investigated the matter.

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A Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Nigeria’s Main One Cable took responsibility Tuesday for a glitch that temporarily caused some Google global traffic to be misrouted through China, saying it accidentally caused the problem during a network
upgrade.

The issue surfaced Monday afternoon as internet monitoring firms ThousandEyes and BGPmon said some traffic to Alphabet’s Google had been routed through China and Russia, raising concerns that the communications had been intentionally hijacked.

Main One said in an email that it had caused a 74-minute glitch by misconfiguring a border gateway protocol filter used to route traffic across the internet. That resulted in some Google traffic being sent through Main One partner China Telecom, the West African firm said.

Google has said little about the matter. It acknowledged the problem Monday in a post on its website that said it was investigating the glitch and that it believed the problem originated outside the company. The company did not say how many users were affected or identify specific customers.

Google, Main One
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

Google representatives could not be reached Tuesday to comment on Main One’s statement.

Hacking concerns

Even though Main One said it was to blame, some security experts said the incident highlighted concerns about the potential for hackers to conduct espionage or disrupt communications by exploiting known vulnerabilities in the way traffic is routed over the internet.

The U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Washington group that advises the U.S. Congress on security issues, plans to investigate the issue, said Commissioner Michael Wessel.

“We will work to gain more facts about what has happened recently and look at what legal tools or legislation or law enforcement activities can help address this problem,” Wessel said.

Google, Main One, YouTube, Google, google services
A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

Glitches in border gateway protocol filters have caused multiple outages to date, including cases in which traffic from U.S. internet and financial services firms was routed through Russia, China and Belarus.

Yuval Shavitt, a network security researcher at Tel Aviv University, said it was possible that Monday’s issue was not an accident.

Also Read: Google Investigating The Root Cause Of its Malfunction

“You can always claim that this is some kind of configuration error,” said Shavitt, who last month co-authored a paper alleging that the Chinese government had conducted a series of internet hijacks.

Main One, which describes itself as a leading provider of telecom and network services for businesses in West Africa, said that it had investigated the matter and implemented new processes to prevent it from happening again. (VOA)