29 May 2014

Nigeria: President Vows 'Full-Scale Operation' Against Terrorism

Photo: Amanda Voisard/UN
President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered "a full-scale operation" to combat Boko Haram. He also issued reassurances that the more than 200 school girls kidnapped by the Islamist group would be found.

Jonathan said Thursday that he would use all available means to ward off the threat of terrorism in Nigeria.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," Jonathan said in a televised speech on the country's Democracy Day.

He said he had ordered security forces "to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil."

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," Jonathan said, without providing any details of what his ordered offensive might entail.

'Foreign elements'

He blamed the rise of Islamist violence in the country on "extremist foreign elements" and offered amnesty to those who gave up violence.

"For citizens who have joined with al Qaeda and international terrorists ... our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace," Jonathan said.

He did not say what the government was doing to rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state kidnapped on April 15, who the military claimed this week it had located.

Meanwhile, media on Thursday reported gunmen on motor bikes had killed more than 30 people in the northeastern village of Gurmushi.

Violent unrest

Nigeria has been in a state of emergency for the past year as its military struggles to quell the growing violence and unrest. Many thousands of people have been killed in Boko Haram's five-year-old insurgency, including more than 2,000 this year lone. An estimated 750,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

Jonathan has promised to curb the poverty that has helped to fuel instability - the World Bank says two thirds of the country's population struggles with poverty - but has now made defeating the insurgency his top priority.

"With the support of Nigerians, our neighbors and the international community, we will reinforce our defense, free our girls and rid Nigeria of terrorists," Jonathan said.

dr/pfd (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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