An Islamist insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast is challenging the country’s stability and every effort is being made to tackle the extremists with “due regard for fundamental human rights,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said.
Violence has intensified over the past two months, as the Islamists – known as Boko Haram and linked to al Qaeda’s African wing – fight back against a military operation ordered by Jonathan in May to crush their 4-year-old rebellion.
“The threat of terrorism in a few states in the northeastern part of our country has proven to be a challenge to national stability,” Jonathan told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, Reuters reports.
“We will spare no effort in addressing this menace,” he said. “We are therefore confronting it with every resource at our disposal with due regard for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.”
Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission said in July that it had credible reports the country’s own forces carried out extra-judicial killings, torture, rape and arbitrary detention to quell the insurgency.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other campaign groups have made similar allegations over the past three years.
Thousands have been killed since Boko Haram launched its uprising in 2009, turning itself from a clerical movement opposed to Western culture into an armed militia.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful” in the northern Hausa language, wants to revive the medieval Islamic kingdoms that used to rule northern Nigeria, before its amalgamation with the largely Christian south by the British colonial authorities.
They are seen as the gravest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer. Although Boko Haram’s activities are located hundreds of miles away from southern Nigeria’s oil fields, the group has bombed the capital Abuja at least three times, including a deadly attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters in 2011.