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Peace And Stability In Northern Nigeria

Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, center right, fields questions from journalists as he leaves U.N. headquarters, where a day earlier a suicide bomber crashed through an exit gate and detonated a car full of explosives, in Abuja, Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria named a seven-member committee to give him recommendations for restoring peace to the region.

A special committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan is getting more time to recommend ways to bring peace and stability to northern Nigeria, the scene of growing antigovernment violence in recent years and a harsh security crackdown to suppress it. A strong friend of Nigeria and its people, the United States is monitoring the situation in northern Nigeria closely.

Since 2009, a group known as Boko Haram has attacked symbols of the Nigerian government. A loosely organized Islamist group, they call for an expanded use of Shari'a law to address corruption and poor governance. More than 250 people have been killed in the last year in attacks blamed on Boko Haram, in bombings of police stations and restaurants and drive-by shootings. Following an attack attributed to Boko Haram on a national police headquarters in June, a military task force was deployed to the city of Maiduguri, a center of Boko Haram activity. Human rights groups report that dozens of civilians have been killed in the sweeps that followed. Citizens fled the city after clashes between the group and security forces intensified.

President Jonathan named a seven-member committee to give him recommendations for restoring peace to the region after meeting with concerned local leaders. It was to present its findings August 16th, but will now have two more weeks to collect more information and prepare a report.

The United States strongly condemns the use of violence by the group known as Boko Haram, and urges authorities to hold accountable those responsible. We urge a full investigation of human rights abuses by Nigerian security forces and urge the government to hold accountable those found responsible for abuses. Finally, we encourage the government to engage in constructive political, economic, and security processes needed to address the longstanding needs of northern Nigerians.