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UNITED—A Cameroonian man living in exile in France adjusts a banner which reads, ‘Cameroon united against Boko Haram,’ at the Republique plaza in Paris, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. (AP / Michel Euler)

UNITED—A Cameroonian man living in exile in France adjusts a banner which reads, ‘Cameroon united against Boko Haram,’ at the Republique plaza in Paris, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. (AP / Michel Euler)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) —The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning attacks by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and expressing alarm at its links to the Islamic State group ahead of a summit in Nigeria to evaluate efforts to combat the extremists.

A presidential statement approved Friday by all 15 council members demands that Boko Haram “immediately and unequivocally cease all violence and all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.” It also demands the immediate release of the thousands of people held captive by Boko Haram including 219 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted in April 2014.

The council welcomed Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s “crucial initiative” to convene Saturday’s summit in the capital Abuja to evaluate the regional response to Boko Haram “with a view to adopting a comprehensive strategy to address the governance, security, development, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis.”

Amnesty International called on leaders attending the summit to ensure that justice remains a priority and to increase efforts to protect civilians.

Some 20,000 people have died and 2.1 million become refugees in Boko Haram’s nearly 7-year uprising to create an Islamic state but U.S.-backed African governments have made military advances against Islamic extremists.

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