Two thousand men, women and children may have died in Boko Haram’s latest blood-letting in Nigeria’s north-east. Those, at least, are the claims.

But in the restive regions where the Islamists passage is barely opposed by government forces, few facts – as human rights groups told The Independent yesterday – are verifiable. Even as President Goodluck Jonathan launched his campaign for re-election this week, evidence appeared to emerge indicating that his government’s attempt to prevent Boko Haram forming an Islamic “caliphate” in the northern regions is failing.

As the militants swept through, over-running government forces, one town populated by thousands, Baga, had until last weekend held out against the insurgency.

Protected by a multinational military base manned by troops from Niger to Chad, it was the last place in Borno State under the national government’s control. Over the weekend, that changed. “They came through the north, the west and from the south of the town because the eastern part is only water,” one resident told the BBC. “So, when we [went] toward the western part, we saw heavily armed Boko Haram men coming toward us.”

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