WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department announced the United States “strongly condemns” recent killings in Nigeria and an Aug. 10 attack on a mosque alleged to be the work of Islamic militants with Boko Haram.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and concern for those wounded. The United States stands with the people of Nigeria to reject the indiscriminate attacks on worshippers of all faiths,” State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said.
Harf said the U.S. also condemned the vigilante executions of suspected Boko Haram members.
For the past decade, the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has sought to impose sharia law throughout Nigeria.
Suspected Boko Haram militants killed 44 people in a grisly attack on a northeast Nigerian village last week, adding to the conflict in the region.
“They set houses ablaze, shot people, and even slit some people’s throats,” an emergency worker told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The attack occurred in the village of Dumba in the northeastern state of Borno before sunrise on Aug. 20. The attackers may have slit their victims’ throats because gunfire would attract the attention of security forces, The Associated Press reported.
The attackers also reportedly gouged out the eyes of some survivors.
Several religious-liberty groups have called on the U.S. government to officially recognize Boko Haram as a terrorist organization for its ongoing violent attacks against Christians.
Official designation of Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist group would allow the U.S. government to freeze or seize its bank accounts, to deport its members and associates and to sanction the group’s financial backers.
More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to the group since 2009.