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U.N. Security Council slaps Boko Haram with sanctions

By Dana Ford, CNN
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The move helps hold the group's "murderous leadership accountable," says official
  • Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria
  • Attacks in Africa's most populous nation appear to be escalating

(CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council approved sanctions Thursday against Nigeria's Boko Haram.

It added the terrorist group to the United Nation's 1267 sanctions list, a list of al Qaeda-linked organizations subject to arms embargoes, travel bans and asset freezes.

"Today, the Security Council took an important step in support of the government of Nigeria's efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities," said Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"By adding Boko Haram to the U.N.'s 1267 sanctions list, the Security Council has helped to close off important avenues of funding, travel and weapons to Boko Haram, and shown global unity against their savage actions," she added.

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Nigeria had asked the United Nations to make the move as attacks in Africa's most populous nation appear to be escalating, spreading beyond Boko Haram's hotbed in the rural northeast.

Twin blasts killed at least 118 people Tuesday at a market in the central city of Jos.

The explosions went off 20 to 30 minutes apart, sparking an inferno that sent crowds running and screaming, covered in blood.

Nigerian authorities described the blasts as "terrorist activities" but declined to speculate on who might be responsible.

In separate attacks in Borno state this week, at least 30 people were killed by members of the terror group, according to local residents.

Boko Haram attackers swooped in on motorcycles Monday and killed 10 people in one village, residents said.

A day later, gunmen stormed a nearby village and killed 20 others, residents said.

During the attacks, Boko Haram set fire to homes and food stores, residents said, and fired machine guns. The group has not claimed responsibility for those attacks.

Both villages are close to where more than 200 girls were kidnapped from a school last month. A Boko Haram leader claimed responsibility in a chilling video and said he was willing to free the girls in exchange for imprisoned militants.

"The sanctions designation is the latest step in the international community's long-term effort to help Nigeria counter this terrorist threat," Power said.

"We will continue doing everything we can to help the people of Nigeria bring back their girls, and we will work with the government of Nigeria to eliminate Boko Haram, including refuting their backwards and bloodthirsty ideology, because no child anywhere should ever be afraid to pursue a brighter future."

READ: 'War on Boko Haram': African, Western nations unify in hunt for Nigerian girls

READ: CNN exclusive: Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram says she still feels afraid

READ: Opinion: Media turns Boko Haram into 'superstar monsters'

CNN's Richard Roth, Nana Karikari-apau, Faith Karimi and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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