A firefight on Friday between insurgents and the Nigerian military claimed close to 180 lives and left some 2,000 homes in the village of Baga burned to their foundations. Baga is in Borno State, the home turf of the group Boko Haram, which has unleashed a war against the Goodluck Jonathan government after their leader was murdered by police in an apparent execution in 2009.

Nigeria’s military has received training at U.S. bases and locally “for decades.”

Security guards initially denied access to Baga as the Goodluck government struggled for 48 hours to provide a full explanation for the high number of fatalities. News reports from the scene generally agree that the Nigerian military initiated the action, surrounding a mosque in the belief that Boko Haram members were inside. They were met by a hail of rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun bullets, whose ferocity reportedly caught the government agents off-guard. Chad and Niger provided backup to the Nigerian troops.

“When the military reinforced and came in to the village, apparently one of the soldiers was killed, and they held the entire community responsible for the killing and decided to massively deal with the community,” political commentator Hussaini Abdu told the German news agency DW.