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Boko Haram: US to Open Consular Office in Kano – This Day

In a move to “burnish” the anti-Western image in Northern Nigeria, the United States is planning to set up a consular office in Kano State, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.

The militant group, Boko Haram, which declares that “Western education is a taboo”, has been launching several attacks on security formations but has not attacked any American interest so far, although it suicide-bombed the United Nations head office in Abuja last year.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley, told AP that the US was considering opening a consulate in Kano, the biggest city in the North, to burnish America’s own image among a people still suspicious about Western influence.

However, he was unequivocal when asked whether US troops should be deployed in Nigeria.

“That’s not on the table,” McCulley said. “No, absolutely not”

At least 185 people died in Kano last month in Boko Haram’s deadliest assault yet.

“It’s of a great concern to us,” McCulley said. “We’ve seen an increase in sophistication, we’ve seen increased lethality. We saw at least a part of the group has decided it’s in their interest to attack the international community.”

The US is working with Nigeria’s police to help them learn how to carry out forensic investigations, while a bomb expert from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been working with authorities on how to detect explosives planted by the group before they detonate, McCulley said.

The US also would be open to training Nigeria’s military in counter-terror techniques, though the country hasn’t asked for that assistance, the ambassador said.

“It’s not going to be solved exclusively by treating it as a security issue,” McCulley said. “It needs a holistic solution. Government needs clearly to have a targeted approach on security that targets the bad guys, that targets perpetuators of these horrible attacks and doesn’t injure innocent civilians or damage property.”

Intelligence-gathering also remains a concern for the US in Nigeria, especially after a failure by American authorities to take seriously a warning about Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab before he boarded a US-bound flight that he attempted to bring down with a bomb in 2009.

While McCulley declined to give details, he said that “adequate systems” were now in place to receive such warnings and that the US maintained “robust relations” with Nigerian intelligence agencies.

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