Nigeria Seeks Information About Militant Sect

Posted August 2nd, 2011 at 9:05 pm (UTC-5)
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A radical Islamist sect `bombed a checkpoint in northern Nigeria the same day the government established a new committee tasked with investigating the group.

An army spokesman said suspected Boko Haram militants exploded a bomb Tuesday in the town of Maiduguri. There were no casualties from the blast, but the spokesman said there may have been some injuries afterwards as soldiers and militants exchanged gunfire.

The attack comes as the government seeks to learn more about Boko Haram, which is blamed for a long string of killings, mostly in the northeastern state of Borno.

When it first announced the committee on Sunday, the government said the seven-person panel would negotiate with Boko Haram, but a Nigerian government official, Anyim Pius Anyim, said the panel first needs to learn about the group's leadership and organization.

The committee chairman, Usman Gaji Galtmari, made a public appeal Tuesday for Boko Haram to open a dialogue.

Boko Haram has previously turned down such appeals. The shadowy group has called for sharia, or Islamic law, to be applied more widely and strictly across Nigeria.

The sect launched a violent uprising in July 2009 that was crushed by the Nigerian military. Since then, the group has targeted authority figures in shootings and carried out numerous bombings, mostly in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.