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UN: Boko Haram Killed Captive Women    04/01 06:15

   BERLIN (AP) -- The U.N.'s human rights chief said Wednesday his office has 
received reports that Boko Haram fighters retreating from advancing military 
forces in Nigeria murdered women and girls they had taken as "wives," along 
with other captives.

   The recapture of parts of northeastern Nigeria in recent weeks "has brought 
to light gruesome scenes of mass graves and further evident signs of slaughter 
by Boko Haram," Zeid Raad al-Hussein told a special session of the U.N. Human 
Rights Council in Geneva.

   Zeid gave no further details of what he said were multiple reports of 
fighters killing "their so-called 'wives' --- in fact, women and girls held in 
slavery --- and other captives." Boko Haram's reported use of children as 
"expendable cannon fodder" and human bombs would, if confirmed, constitute war 
crimes and crimes against humanity, he said.

   Zeid said there also are "persistent and credible reports" of serious rights 
violations by Nigerian and other security forces responding to Boko Haram. He 
called for "thorough and fully transparent investigations" by authorities.

   The Islamic extremist militants have terrorized northern Nigeria and also 
attacked towns in neighboring countries, prompting nations in the region 
including Chad and Niger to put together a force to combat them.

   Zeid said he is "profoundly concerned about the growing ethnic and sectarian 
dimensions of the conflict."

   Boko Haram's original leader was from the Kanuri ethnic group, and the U.N. 
human rights office has received reports "indicating that Kanuris are now 
considered suspect by some military personnel," resulting in arbitrary arrests 
and abuse, Zeid said.

   Boko Haram, meanwhile, has begun targeting Nigerians of Shuwa Arab origin 
"apparently in retaliation for their perceived support to the Nigerian armed 
forces," he said.

   "There is thus a high risk of escalating ethnic and religious violence," 
Zeid said. "This can only be halted by principled leadership and clear 
instructions to military personnel, with appropriate accountability."


(KA)


 
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