UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council called Friday for the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram to be held accountable for what may amount to crimes against humanity and hinted at sanctions against the Islamist extremists.
The statement approved by all 15 council members was the strongest by the U.N.'s most powerful body on terrorist attacks in Nigeria.
The council expressed "profound outrage" at Boko Haram's abduction of 276 school girls on April 14 and eight girls on May 5, and demanded their immediate and unconditional release. It also strongly condemned a May 5 attack that caused hundreds of deaths and injuries.
The council said terrorist attacks conducted by Boko Haram since 2009 "have caused large-scale and devastating loss of life and represent a threat to the stability and peace of west and central Africa."
Boko Haram, which wants to impose Islamic Shariah law on Nigeria, has staged many attacks in the country's northeast. Its campaign of bombings and massacres has intensified in recent times despite a strong military presence there. So far this year, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people.
Security CounciI members expressed their intention to follow the situation of the abducted girls "and to consider appropriate measures against Boko Haram," which in diplomatic language means possible sanctions.
While the statement did not mention the International Criminal Court, it said all perpetrators "must be held accountable at national or international levels and that some of those acts may amount to crimes against humanity under international law."