ABUJA: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute Monday to 23 colleagues killed four years ago in a Boko Haram car bombing at his organization’s Nigeria headquarters.
Ban is to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and promised solidarity in the new Nigerian leader’s fight against insecurity, unemployment and corruption.
Ban laid a wreath Monday at the U.N. offices where a Boko Haram suicide car bomber smashed through the barrier and exploded into the reception area on Aug. 26, 2011, killing 23 people. He was to meet later Monday with some of the 60 wounded who “suffered terrible injury and trauma,” he said.
“The terrorists attacked the United Nations and destroyed the lives of many colleagues,” said Ban. “But we have a mandate to build. To better the lives of people in need. To conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy. To promote respect for people’s rights and freedoms.”
The U.N. leader also is scheduled to meet the Bring Back Our Girls group, which demands government action to free 219 abducted schoolgirls held by Boko Haram for nearly 500 days.
His visit comes as a regional army is preparing a long-delayed offensive against Nigeria’s Islamic extremists. The 6-year-old uprising has killed 20,000 people, including more than 1,000 this year.
The Nigerian Air Force reported Monday that a helicopter was hit by extremists during an operation that destroyed two trailers believed to be carrying logistics support for the insurgents near Belel town on the border with Cameroon. A statement said the main rotor blade of the Mi-24V attack helicopter was hit but the pilot managed to fly it back to base.
Ban leaves Monday night for Paris to address a meeting of French ambassadors ahead of a December conference on a new climate agreement.