Peace offer made amid northeast Nigeria violence
Maiduguri (Nigeria): A self-proclaimed commander of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram said on Tuesday that a cease-fire by the group would be imminent in northern Nigeria, though violence continued unstopped in a region where similar peace claims never materialised.
A man who identified himself as Sheikh Mohammed Abdulaziz spoke to journalists today in Maiduguri, where Boko Haram got its start and attacks blamed on the group continued that day. Abdulaziz described himself as a second-in-command to sect leader Abubakar Shekau and said there would be a cease-fire as the local government had promised to release some sect members.
Abdulaziz said he and his men met twice before with Borno state government officials and also agreed that "government security agencies can go ahead to arrest whoever they find carrying arms or killing under our names."
"We resolved that we should bring this crisis to an end," Abdulaziz said in the Hausa language of Nigeria`s predominantly Muslim north. "We therefore called on all those that identify themselves with us and our course, to from today lay down their arms."
Abdulaziz spoke for 10 minutes before journalists today and refused to be photographed or filmed. Borno state spokesman Isa Gusau, later speaking with journalists, never said whether Abdulaziz conducted any talks with government officials. Gusau only said that the government had been "exploring different ways to establish some means of negotiation."
As the announcement was made, word emerged of an alleged Boko Haram attack in the village of Gajiganna in Borno state that left eight people dead. A local resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of angering the sect, said he saw the corpses Sunday and that some had been beheaded. A military spokesman later said he`d heard of the attack, but declined to immediately offer any casualty figures.
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