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UN blacklists Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic leader to host prayer over brutal Islamist insurgency

ABUJA, May 23, (AFP): The United Nations imposed sanctions on Boko Haram Thursday, blacklisting it as an al-Qaedalinked terrorist organization as protesters stepped up demands on Nigeria to release 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

The terror designation, immediately welcomed by the United States, subjects Boko Haram to an arms embargo and asset freeze, though it remains unclear what practical impact it will have. The group, which demands the creation of an Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, has recently escalated its campaign of attacks that have left thousands dead since 2009. “Boko Haram are now listed on the United Nations’ al-Qaeda sanctions list,” said Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, chair of the al-Qaeda sanctions committee. “We will work to try and make sure that anyone providing material assistance to Boko Haram, whether funding or arms, will in effect be stopped,” he told reporters in New York. Meanwhile, the leader of Nigeria’s Muslims on Friday announced plans to host a national day of prayer in the capital as part of an effort to overcome Boko Haram’s brutal Islamist insurgency.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has invited Nigeria’s prominent Muslim leaders to the National Mosque in Abuja on Sunday. The “National Muslims Prayers for Peace and Security in Nigeria” aims to help the country in “overcoming the current security challenges facing the country” a statement printed in several national newspapers said. The call follows an open letter to the Sultan written by Shehu Sani, a prominent northern rights activist and author who has been part of several past efforts to end Boko Haram’s five-year deadly uprising through dialogue. Sani said Nigeria’s top cleric needed to do more to help secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls held hostage by Boko Haram, whose mass April 14 abduction from a school in Chibok in the northeast has drawn worldwide condemnation

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