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US Names 2 Nigerian-Based Groups Terrorist Organizations

  • VOA News

The United States has named Nigerian-based militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. counterterrorism official Lisa Monaco said the two groups have been responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria in recent years.

She said the groups have carried out dozens of attacks on churches and mosques, as well as targeted killings of civilians. U.S. officials blame Boko Haram for a 2011 attack on a U.N. building in Abuja that killed 21 people.

Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram

2009
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed

2010
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86

2011
  • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
  • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
  • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
  • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39

2012
  • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
  • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
  • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
  • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims

2013
  • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
  • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
  • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
  • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
  • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
  • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
The designation cuts off Boko Haram and Ansaru from U.S. financial institutions and allows banks to freeze their assets held in the United States.

The announcement came as a U.S. Congressional subcommittee holds a hearing on the threat posed by Boko Haram, Nigeria's most prominent militant organization.

Earlier this year, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent of Boko Haram. U.S. officials said Ansaru's attacks have focused mostly on Nigerian military and Western targets.

Before Wednesday's hearing, committee chairman Christopher Smith said Boko Haram fit the definition of a terrorist group and should be designated as such.

Boko Haram's name in the Hausa language means "Western education is a sin." The group has battled the Nigerian government since 2009, with frequent attacks on police stations, jails, and government officials, as well as civilian targets like churches and mosques.

The group is believed to be fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, although much about its membership, leadership and structure remains unclear.

Last year, the U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram's most visible leader, Abubakar Shekau, a terrorist, along with two other men ( Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi) who allegedly have ties to Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Nigeria's government declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in May and has sent thousands of troops to battle the group. But attacks continue, amid accusations the military has killed hundreds of civilians through indiscriminate and heavy-handed violence.

The State Department said Wednesday that the designations were "only one tool" in what must be a comprehensive approach by Nigeria's government to counter the groups through law enforcement, political and development efforts, as well as military engagement.
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