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Boko Haram (US House F Affairs Hearing)

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The US House Foreign Affairs Committee convened a hearing on Boko Haram at 9:45 a.m. on May 21, 2014. Find the deets here.

More on the story from FP SITUATION REPORT

Two explosions kill scores at a market in central Nigeria. The NYT’s Adam Nossiter: «Two powerful explosions killed scores of people, many of them female vendors, in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Tuesday afternoon, officials and witnesses said. While no one claimed responsibility for the bombing, it occurred as international attention has focused on the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram following the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls last month and may have been a bloody act of defiance. The blasts shattered a bustling market area as working people were doing afternoon grocery shopping. With rescue operations still underway in a chaotic, smoky tangle of blasted stalls and body parts, the police commissioner confirmed that at least 46 were killed and 45 wounded in the explosions. Other news reports put the death toll at more than 100. ‘That place is a commercial nerve center,’ said Salis Muhammad Abdul Salam, who saw the blasts from his office nearby. ‘There were more women casualties.’

«…An Islamist militant attack on Jos could have particularly dire consequences as it has been a flash point of Christian-Muslim tensions for years. The sprawling city lies at the edge of the Muslim-majority northern half of the country. Already on Tuesday evening, there were reports of reprisal attacks in Jos.» More here.

The Pentagon said yesterday there have been no new requests for assistance in Nigeria. Kirby said the surveillance aircraft looking for the schoolgirls is only unmanned – the CIA’s manned craft – an MC-12 Beechrcraft – has been taken out of the mission for now for maintenance. That leaves just the unmanned aircraft operational.

What does Boko Haram want? Newsweek’s Janine di Giovanni: «…So what is behind the snatching of the girls? How can such horrific behavior be explained? What has Islam got to do with such a despicable crime? And what can be done to prevent such an incident from becoming a regular feature of life in countries where Islam is on the march? When I began my journey back in 2002, it had been three years since Sharia law was introduced by individual northern Nigerian states, and along with it hudud punishments-stoning and amputation-in an attempt to end corruption and bring justice to ordinary citizens. But what I saw in northern Nigeria had little to do with justice. Up and down the red, unpaved roads, in and out of villages, shanties and urban centers, a suffocating sensation of fear pervaded everything. By that point, in the north there had been three amputations and four people sentenced to death by stoning, and 11 children were waiting to have a limb amputated for petty theft.»

U.N. special envoy Angelina Jolie to CNN and quoted in the Newsweek piece: «One of the root causes for the horror of these girls being kidnapped is the culture of impunity… The perpetrators believe they can get away with it. And if they do get away with this, with the world watching, then it sends a message to others that they too can commit similar attacks.» More here.

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