WARNING: Footage seen in the video at the top of this story is disturbing. While it does not show anyone being killed, some viewers may find it difficult to watch.
A video that circulated on social media starting in July shows Cameroonian soldiers leading two women and two young children to their deaths. One woman is holding a little girl’s hands and the other is carrying a toddler on her back.
The captives, accused of belonging to Boko Haram, are then blindfolded and shot 22 times, the BBC reported.
Cameroon’s government first called the video “a fake news story” and “an unfortunate attempt to distort actual facts and intoxicate the public.” A BBC Africa Eye investigation, however, used technology to determine where and when the killings took place and conclude that Cameroonian soldiers committed the murders. And the government has since changed its tune.
“The remarkable thing about this investigation… is that they used tools available to all of us,” said CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta.
The BBC reports that the topography seen in the video is distinctive. It was able to determine — using satellite imagery and a tip from a source — the location of a mountain range depicted. That placed the scene of the killings on a road outside Krawa Mafa, a village in Cameroon a few hundred meters from the Nigerian border. Other details in the video, including trees and buildings, supported that conclusion.
The BBC also used satellite imagery and details seen in the video, including the direction of a soldier’s shadow, to conclude that the killings took place sometime between March 20 and April 5, 2015.
An analysis of the soldiers’ weapons and clothing, the location of a nearby combat outpost used by the Cameroonian military in their fight against Boko Haram, and information available on Facebook helped the BBC determine that Cameroonian soldiers committed the killings — and identify three men who, according to the BBC, “actually pulled the trigger.”
After denying the killings for weeks, Cameroon’s government arrested seven members of the military and said they were jailed. As CBS News’ Patta reports, three of them matched up to men named by the BBC.
“The government has arrested the 7 personnel involved and they are being court-martialed as we speak,” Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, said Tuesday.
“When it was first bought to our knowledge we had no proof. We were skeptical because the soldiers acted in a way that was diametrically opposed to all the training and principles,” he said.
The men will now face murder charges, Patta reports.
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