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US holds CONFAB in Nigerian capital while attacks escape in the North

Nigerian police

Nigerian police

(GIN) — As Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Bureau of African Affairs, makes her third trip to Nigeria since assuming her post in August, a bloodbath is occurring in northern Nigeria where a state of emergency was imposed almost nine months ago. Thomas-Greenfield led a U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission meeting Feb. 17-18 in Abuja.

In northern Borno State, meanwhile, suspected Islamist fighters launched an early morning attack Feb. 16, setting off explosions and burning down dozens of homes. In Izghe village, the gunmen reportedly rounded up a group of men and shot them, before going door-to-door and killing anyone they found. The death toll at 90 is mounting.

“As I am talking to you now, all the dead bodies of the victims are still lying in the streets,” resident Abubakar Usman told the Reuters news agency by phone. “We fled without burying them, fearing the terrorists were still lurking in the bushes.”

Police commissioner of Borno State, Lawal Tanko, confirmed the attack, but said he had no details of the casualties.

Efforts by President Goodluck Jonathan to crush the insurgents have had little effect. In fact, according to observers, by increasing troop levels Jonathan increased the level of violence. Some of the current crisis, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, permanent representative to the U.N., suggested a possible link to security forces themselves.

Power, speaking to civil society groups in Abuja last December, said, “the United States is concerned by some of the stories we hear of inhumane detention practices in Nigeria… I have discussed those with officials here. Security crackdowns that do not discriminate between legitimate targets and innocent civilians are both counterproductive and wrong.

“We know how hard it is to fight insurgency and terrorism, but we have also seen how much more effective we are when we put the welfare of the local population at the heart of our efforts.”

According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the N.Y.-based Council on Foreign Affairs Africa project, the number of victims from President Jonathan’s inauguration in May 2011 to January 2014 had reached 6,866.

In addition to the much-publicized Boko Haram insurgents who want to carve a breakaway Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, others resorting to violence include ethnic rivals, farmers, herdsmen, a new generation of Niger Delta militants, and government soldiers who kill civilians indiscriminately, according to the Tracker. Police are also notorious for extrajudicial murder.

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