Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Western Officials Seek Softer Approach to Militants in Nigeria

30 August 2011

Amid increasing evidence that the Nigerian government’s heavy-handed strategy for containing a radical Islamist sect has failed, some Western officials are urging a new and less militarized approach.

The suicide bombing of the United Nations headquarters here on Friday, which killed 23 people, has added urgency to their appeal, demonstrating that the sect, Boko Haram, has expanded its scope well beyond domestic targets. Far from being crushed by Nigerian firepower, Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the attack, appears to be confirming the worst fears of Western analysts and diplomats — that repression is hastening its transformation into a menacing transnational force, with possible links to Al Qaeda’s North African affiliates.

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