Nigerian Militants Abandon Talks With Government

Posted March 20th, 2012 at 7:05 pm (UTC-5)
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A purported spokesman for the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, says it has broken off talks with the Nigerian government.

A man calling himself Abul Qaqa Tuesday told local reporters in the city of Maiduguri that the militants had engaged in indirect talks with the government, but that those talks had failed. The spokesman said the group will not go into such a dialogue again.

“We have closed all possible doors of negotiation. We would never listen to any call for negotiations. Let the government forces do whatever they feel they can do and we too would use all the wherewithal at our disposal and do what we can. If the government thinks arresting our members will discourage us from launching onslaught, then let them continue arresting and killing our members. We strongly believe that Almighty Allah will give us the power to catch and prosecute government forces. We are optimistic that we would dismantle this government and establish Islamic government in Nigeria. Let the federal government and its agents do what they can; and we in return, would also do what we can.”

His comments came just days after Muslim cleric Ahmed Datti announced that he has given up his involvement in facilitating the talks. He said he could not trust the government after news about the talks leaked out.

The indirect talks were aimed at ending months of attacks by Boko Haram in the mostly Muslim north. The group is blamed for hundreds of deaths in bombings and shootings over the past 18 months.

President Goodluck Jonathan is under mounting pressure to restore security in the north. Many of the attacks have targeted police, government officials and other authority figures. In an effort to stem the crisis, Mr. Jonathan recently declared a state of emergency in 15 areas and deployed extra troops to the north, but attacks have continued.

Much is unknown about Boko Haram, but it is believed to want wider implementation of sharia, or Islamic law.

Boko Haram first came to international attention with a brief but violent uprising against the government in July 2009. The uprising sparked a heavy military response and a week of fighting that killed some 700 people.