Nigeria confirms death of Boko Haram members
Abuja - The Nigerian Army late on Monday confirmed the death of 12 Boko Haram members in a gun battle with the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri, where the headquarters of the sect is located.
The JTF, which comprises army and police personnel to try to keep the peace in the north-east region, has become the main target of the group.
Boko Haram said it had killed 12 soldiers in the battle, but spokesperson for the JTF Hassan Mohammed denied the report.
"Yesterday, soldiers of the JTF were attacked in Budum ward of Maiduguri by Boko Haram sect members. In the exchange of fire following the attack 12 sect members were killed while two members of the JTF sustained injuries," he said.
Experts had warned of reprisal attacks following the re-arrest of Kabiru Sokoto, the alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day bomb attacks in Madalla.
Sokoto, who escaped from police custody in January, was rearrested on Friday in Taraba State along the Nigeria-Chad border.
National security adviser Andrew Azazi in a recent interview said the sect had received professional training and also had links with international military organizations.
Azazi said that security forces had recovered training manuals written in Arabic, training videos and "martyr videos" recorded by Boko Haram suicide bombers.
"I watched videos of their weapons training, which is very professional. They are also innovative in making improvised explosive devices,"
"I want to believe very strongly that there is outside assistance. We are thinking of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb," he added.
Human rights organisations say more than 250 people have been killed since January in attacks carried out by the group.
The security forces have faced mounting pressure to contain the Boko Haram insurgency, which has intensified in recent weeks in a wave of both large and small attacks.
The group killed at least 185 people in coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Nigeria's second city of Kano on January 20, its deadliest ever strike. It has also attacked churches and the United Nations office in Abuja.