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OPINION: Where is the outrage on Nigeria?

Last Wednesday at least 12 people were killed and eight others injured when gunmen attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In the past, the magazine had published cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. Some people were unhappy with this. It is believed the gunmen carried out the attack to avenge the honour of the prophet.

As the news of the attack spread, world leaders expressed shock and outrage. Countries were quick to send their condolences to France and also condemned the attack. South Africa was one of those countries which spoke out against the killings. Government reiterated its support for freedom of expression.

French police worked tirelessly in an effort to arrest the culprits. On Friday, CNN and other international news organisations led with the story. CNN labelled it breaking news throughout the day even when there wasn't any new information regarding the manhunt for the gunmen.

The three gunmen were killed on Friday following a standoff with the police.

On the same day of the Paris shooting, another attack was carried out in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram insurgents attacked Baga town in what has been dubbed the "deadliest massacre in the history of the group". It is not yet clear how many people were killed, but it is estimated at 2,000.

Most of the victims were children, women and the elderly. Survivors fled their homes before they could even bury the dead. Thousands fled to Chad. It's reported that others drowned while crossing Lake Chad.

This brutal attack didn't cut it as breaking news. Don't ask me why. Local and international media led with the Paris shooting which trended for several days. Baga didn't trend, not even once.

Some media organisation reflected the story only in passing. I watched prime time news on Thursday. They reported on the Paris shooting, but didn't mention Baga. Nigeria is closer to South Africa, but for some reason media houses prioritised an international story over a continental one.

They also didn't hesitate to label the senseless killing of 12 people in Paris as a massacre. It reminded me of a time in 2012 when 34 miners were shot dead by police in Marikana. In the newsroom, there was a debate on whether we could really call it a massacre. I remember being puzzled at the debate. Human beings were gunned down in broad daylight. Why debate which label to use when corpses are strewn on the ground?

Finally, I'm not minimising what happened in Paris. It's indefensible, but what about Baga? I believe it's possible to be outraged over both incidents. Both stories are breaking news. People's lives were cut short in both incidents. So why turn a blind eye to the hundreds that were brutally murdered in Baga?

I'm yet to hear of governments who sent their messages of condolences to Nigeria. Is there any planned protest to mourn these victims?

Lindiwe Mlandu is a member of the _ Eyewitness News _ team in Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter: @LindiweMl

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