Nigerian warplanes struck militant camps in the northeast on Friday in a major push against an Islamist insurgency, drawing a sharp warning from the United States to respect human rights and not harm civilians.
Troops used jets and helicopters to bombard targets in their biggest offensive since the Boko Haram group launched a revolt almost four years ago to establish a breakaway Islamic state and one military source said at least 30 militants had been killed.
But three days after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strongly worded statement saying: “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn, only escalate the violence and fuel extremism.”
The United States is the biggest foreign investor in Africa’s most populous nation, notably in its energy sector, and buys a third of Nigeria’s oil. Washington “condemns Boko Haram’s campaign of terror in the strongest terms”, Kerry said, but urged Nigeria’s armed forces to show restraint and discipline.
Nigerian defense spokesman Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade said in a statement that troops destroyed several Boko Haram camps and weapons stockpiles in forests around Borno state, epicenter of the uprising and relic of a medieval Islamic empire: “Heavy weapons including anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns were also destroyed in the process,” he said.
“The special operations … resulted in the destruction of much of the insurgents’ weapons and logistics such as vehicles, containers, fuel dumps and power generators.”
He said the death toll amongst the insurgents would be verified during mopping up exercises in the camps, including in the Sambisa game reserve in Borno state. A military source said at least 30 insurgents had been killed in one operation.
It’s not the first time, Obama Administration Threatened Nigeria with Sanctions in 2013 for Fighting Boko Haram
Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only Obama administration official who went to bat for Boko Haram over the past few years.
Soon after John Kerry took over as Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley, accused the Nigerian government of butchery during a confrontation with Boko Haram terrorists in Baga, a Nigerian town on the shores of Lake Chad, and in May 2013 threatened to withdraw U.S. military aid from the West African nation.
Boko Haram militants attacked a Nigerian military outpost in April 2013 outside Baga, killing one soldier. Following the three-day battle human rights activists, including the George Soros-funded and liberal aligned Human Rights Watch, which is not exactly known for its impartiality when it comes to reporting on Islamic issues, claimed the Nigerian military wantonly slaughtered 183 civilians and burned down over 2,000 homes and businesses.
The Nigerian government denied the claims saying the death toll and destruction had been vastly overstated by its enemies, and in fact 30 Boko Haram terrorists, 6 civilians and one soldier, had died in the fighting. Reports from the Baga clinic, which treated 193 people following the battle, but only 10 with serious injuries, seemed to back up the Nigerian government claim that no large-scale massacre had occurred.
The U.S. Nigerian Ambassador, blindly believing any Islamist sob story that crossed his path, responded in a May 2013 meeting with human rights activists by defending Boko Haram:
Mr. Terrence announced to the activists that the US congress had previously passed a law that bars the United States from rendering military assistance to any government that violates basic rights of citizens. He said the Obama led US government has therefore ceased to assist Nigeria militarily in obedience to the law.
The threat of military sanctions, and whether or not they were actually implemented, is an open question as there has been zero coverage of this issue in the mainstream media, may have had a chilling effect on Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, Goodluck has left the natives with no other choice – and they are taking it upon themselves: Nigerian Villagers Fight Back Against Boko Haram, Kill 200, Capture 10.