Posted by News Express | 20 October 2014 | 3,297 times
The cease-fire deal announced by the Nigerian government on Friday appears to be unraveling as fresh clashes between soldiers and Boko Haram militants are reported in the northeastern town of Damboa.
The news comes as the government prepares for more regionally mediated talks in Chad to discuss the release of 219 schoolgirls still held by the sect.
Residents of Borno state said that since the cease-fire was announced Friday, militants have attacked several communities – killing at least 40 people and hoisting their black flag over the border town of Abadam.
The government said those attacks were the work of “fringe groups” who hadn’t yet gotten word of the cease-fire.
However, a member of a civilian militia group allied with the government and an army officer in Borno state, told VOA that on Sunday night Boko Haram militants stormed the town of Damboa. A state intelligence official in Borno told VOA the army drove back the attack and killed 25 insurgents.
The fighting casts even further doubt on the cease-fire. The spokesman for the Borno Elders Forum, Bulama Mali Guide, said leaders in the three most affected states were not part of the talks and have been given no details.
“This deal, as announced by the federal government, is very sketchy because nothing is being spelled out. We are not told of the nitty-gritty of the peace deal,” Guide said.
“I think they should come here to find out from us how the Boko Haram are because the real Boko Haram we know who are killing us, who are burning our towns and villages, I’m sure are not the Boko Haram they negotiated with,” he said.
Only one purported Boko Haram leader has confirmed the cease-fire, and many said they have never heard of Danladi Amadu, the man who claimed to VOA’s Hausa news service to be Boko Haram’s secretary general.
Some northern leaders and analysts told VOA they worried the cease-fire announcement was politically motivated.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticised for not doing enough to stop Boko Haram, is soon expected to announce his candidacy for re-election in 2015.
The Nigerian government said the talks happening in Chad were legitimate and were part of larger efforts to end the five-year old insurgency. The Chadian government confirmed that it has been acting as a mediator.
A presidential spokesman told VOA that negotiations for the girls were expected to begin Tuesday in Chad. He could not say how long the talks would take or specifically what terms the government would consider.
•Adapted from a VOA report. Photo shows Nigerian troops combating Boko Haram in the North-East.
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