Video: hundreds rally in Paris against Boko Haram massacres
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Several hundred people rallied in central Paris on Sunday in protest against Islamist group Boko Haram, whose brutal raids have killed at least 13,000 people in northeast Nigeria and in neighbouring countries.
The protesters gathered near the Eiffel Tower, many holding “I am Nigerian” signs, inspired by the hugely successful “I am Charlie” campaign that followed the deadly terrorist attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Some, like political activist Abel Ibangono Maina, had lost relatives in Boko Haram’s deadly assault on the city of Baga and nearby villages earlier this month, in which hundreds of people were butchered and thousands of homes were destroyed.
"They massacred the people of the village, including my cousin and three of his children,” he said.
“They massacred over a hundred people in the village and they took all the women to use them as sex slaves."
The protesters in Paris expressed their frustration at the Nigerian authorities’ lackluster response to the jihadist group, which is fighting to create a hardline Islamic state.
"It outrages me to see [Nigerian] President Goodluck Jonathan more concerned with his re-election in February than the killing of 2,000 of his people," said another protester, referring to Nigeria’s looming presidential poll.
In recent months Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in the region, which straddles the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Its massacres, pillages and mass kidnappings have driven an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes.
On Saturday, Chadian forces joined the fight against the Islamist group, deploying troops, military vehicles and combat helicopters in Cameroon and Nigeria. But they were unable to prevent yet another cross-border raid the next day.
Even as the protesters gathered in Paris, Islamist militants stormed two villages in northern Cameroon, torching homes and kidnapping more than 60 people, most of them women and children.