State Department press secretary Jen Psaki today still raised the prospect of ceasefire talks with Boko Haram even as the terrorist group sent a suicide bomber into a school in Yobe state, Nigeria.
The attacker, dressed as a student, detonated his explosives as students gathered for the morning assembly at the Government Senior Science Secondary School, a boys’ boarding school in Potiskum, a city of more than 200,000.
Forty-seven people were killed and 79 injured, according to Nigeria’s Premium Times.
It came a day after the release of a new Boko Haram video showing the terrorists in an unidentified town under their control, doing donuts in a tank down a main street. Leader Abubakar Shekau preaches to the locals and notably lends his support to the Islamic State; Boko Haram declared the caliphate at the end of August in the ever-expanding territory it controls.
Shekau also, again, scoffed at Nigeria’s insistence over the past few weeks that it had either forged a truce with the terror group or was negotiating.
“There is no truce between me and Nigerian tyrants,” said Shekau, vowing to kill anyone posing as a Boko Haram negotiator.
Some reports have accused the president of Chad of leading Nigeria astray by claiming there was a ceasefire deal.
At today’s State Department briefing, Psaki was asked if there was any administration response on the Nigeria attack.
“You’re referring of course to the one on the students, I assume?” Psaki replied. “We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific attack on Nigerian students by a suicide bomber, which has reportedly killed dozens of students and wounded countless others at a school assembly in the Northeastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, as well as other attacks on defenseless civilians this past week in Nigeria. Our sympathies and thoughts are with the victims and their families of these latest egregious assault on innocent civilians by those bent on fomenting violent extremism and insecurity in Northeastern Nigeria and the region.”
“We urge the government of Nigeria to investigate these and other attacks to bring the perpetrators to justice,” she added.
When pressed about the phantom ceasefire that never was, Psaki insisted “there have been a range of reports over the course of time and certainly some ups and downs in these discussions.”
“As far as I heard earlier today, I think it’s fairly obvious where things stand at this point in time. It doesn’t mean that those negotiations and discussions won’t continue,” she added.
Pskai said she would check to see “if there’s more of an assessment about where things stand on that front.”
Boko Haram reportedly took another city today, Maiha in Adamawa State near the Cameroon border.
“A report from a Maiha resident alleged that militants attacked the area at 5:30pm local time, when security agents left for Belel district, about 48km away. The source also says that many soldiers and two civilians have died. Many are also reported to be badly wounded,” said Sahara Reporters. “Reports also suggest that many persons fleeing Maiha and nearby Belel are crossing the border to Cameroon.”
Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. Ade Adefuye went off on Washington today, slamming the administration for letting the terror group grow.
“I am sad to inform you that the Nigerian leadership — military and political, and even the general populace — are not satisfied with the scope, nature and content of the United States’ support for us in our struggle against terrorists,” Adefuye told the Council on Foreign Relations.
“We find it difficult to understand how and why in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly.”
Adefuye said that the administration “has up till today refused to grant Nigeria’s request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time on the basis of the allegations that Nigeria’s defence forces have been violating human rights of Boko Haram suspects when captured or arrested.”
The Obama administration has long criticized the Nigerian government forces in the same breath as the al-Qaeda-allied terrorists, including Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield telling a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee a year ago that the U.S. government is “concerned by reports that some Nigerian security forces have committed gross human rights violations in response to Boko Haram.” At the same hearing, Nigerian activists testified that Boko Haram is beheading Christians with chainsaws.
The ambassador said the reports of government abuses have been exaggerated, offering as example one claim that said the government destroyed 1,600 homes in a town with 600 houses.
“Nigeria has had reasons to complain about the style, nature and manner with which some United States’ policies are implemented with particular reference to terrorism in Nigeria,” Adefuye said.
Vanguard News in Nigeria reports that Boko Haram has already begun renaming cities in its part of the caliphate: Gwoza is now Darul Hikma, or House of Wisdom, and Mubi is now Madinatul Islam, or City of Islam.