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US warns Nigeria against human rights abuses

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Nigerian military against launching a “crackdown” and committing human rights abuses in the conflict with Boko Haram, at an address in Sokoto, Nigeria today.

Expressing the United States support for the Nigerian government’s war against Boko Haram, Mr Kerry said trust must be built in government structures in order to counter violent extremism.

“It is understandable in the wake of terrorist activity, some people are tempted to crackdown on everyone and anyone who could theoretically pose some sort of a threat,” he said. “I caution against that today. Extremism cannot be defeated through repression.”

Nigeria’s military has been accused of committing grave human rights abuses, especially in the northeast of the country, where Boko Haram strongholds lie.

“To win the struggle for the future, nations need to do more than just denounce bankrupt, dead-end ideologies that the terrorists support,” he added. “They also have to offer their citizens an alternative that is better, that offers hope, that actually delivers on its promises.”

See the full text of his address here.

His visit to the country comes as the military announced it has killed several of Boko Haram’s senior leadership and claimed it had wounded the head of the organisation, in airstrikes this week.