Boko Haram claims al-Qaeda links
Kano - A purported spokesperson for Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed on Thursday that the group, blamed for attacks including the suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Nigeria, has links with al-Qaeda.
"It is true we have links with al-Qaeda," the man identifying himself as Abul Qaqa told reporters in a phone conference in the Hausa language spoken throughout Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.
"They assist us and we assist them."
Abul Qaqa has claimed to speak on behalf of Boko Haram on a number of previous occasions. He did not provide further details on the supposed link.
There has long been speculation, particularly among Western nations, over whether Boko Haram has formed links with outside extremist groups, including al-Qaeda's north African branch.
Boko Haram has carried out scores of attacks in Nigeria, including the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja that killed at least 24 people.
The group is believed to have a number of factions with varying aims. Nigeria's secret police alleged this week that some Boko Haram members have links to politicians following the arrest of another alleged spokesperson for the group.
Abul Qaqa refuted the secret police claims during the phone conference.