HRW warns of conflict spiral in Nigeria

Oct. 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Nigeria risks becoming embroiled in a conflict spiral given escalating fighting between the militant Boko Haram and government forces, a rights group said.

Militant group Boko Haram aims to set up an Islamic state in Nigeria, a country divided along Muslim and Christian lines.

More than a dozen people were arrested last week on suspicion of allying with Boko Haram in the mixed-religion city of Mubi. This week, at least 20 people, mostly students, were killed by unknown gunmen in the city.

Human Rights Watch, in a 98-page report published Thursday, said violence attributed to Boko Haram likely amounted to crimes against humanity. Government forces, meanwhile, are suspected of committed widespread abuses, including extrajudicial killings, during their campaign against the militant group.

Daniel Bekele, director of African programs at Human Rights Watch, said both sides need to exercise restraint.

"Both sides need to halt this downward spiral," he said in a statement. "Nigeria's government should swiftly bring to justice the Boko Haram members and security agents who have committed these serious crimes."

Human Rights Watch based its research on field studies conducted from July 2010-July 2012. The organization said more than 250 attacks by Boko Haram during the first nine months of this year have left more than 800 people dead.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy drops bid for speaker
WikiLeaks offering $50K for video of Afghan hospital bombing
Murdoch sorry for implying Obama's not a 'real black president'
Reid sues exercise companies over eye injury
Lumber Liquidators to pay $10M in DOJ settlement