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On Nigeria Offensive in Baga, Ban Tells Extremists to Cease, Al Nusra Contrast?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 22 -- After the Nigerian army attacked Boko Haram fighters in Baga, after a soldier was killed, dozens or up to 185 people were killed, many of them by the government forces.

  At the April 22 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN, which has a UN House and UN Country Team in Nigeria, had any information or response to the serious fighting. Nesirky said there might be something soon.

  Two hours later, Nesirky's office issued this statement:

The Secretary-General is shocked and saddened at the reports of high numbers of civilians killed, and homes destroyed, as a result of violence between military forces and an extremist group in the northeastern town of Baga in Borno State, Nigeria, on 19 and 20 April. He expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and calls on all extremist groups to cease their attacks. The Secretary-General reiterates his firm conviction that no objective sought can justify this resort to violence. He underscores the need for all concerned to fully respect human rights and safeguard the lives of civilians.”

After what is reported as a government attack on Baga, to call for “extremist groups to cease their attacks” seems strange. Then again, when the Sri Lankan government was killing some 40,000 civilians in the blood bath on the beach in 2009, Ban's UN didn't even call for a ceasefire. And what accountability has there been?

Ban's approach to Nigerian and Sri Lankan government military offenses directed at “extremist” or terrorist groups can be contrasted his views on other countries, other governments. But that will be another story. For now we'll only note that it seems to turn on the position of Ban's (Western) power base toward the opposition group.

And so, an ongoing test case: the Al Nusro Front. Watch this site.

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