Nigeria 'in contact' with Boko Haram - report

2014-05-11 21:37

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London - Nigerian authorities have reportedly made indirect contact with the Islamist group behind the abduction of more than 250 schoolgirls.

Intelligence sources told Sky News that Nigeria's neighbours - Chad, Cameroon and Niger - are also providing satellite imagery to help find the girls.

More than 300 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok on 14 April. Some managed to escape, but there has been no word about the others.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau last week vowed to sell the schoolgirls, whom he described as slaves, "on the market".

Security experts from the UK, US and France are assisting Nigerian authorities in the rescue operation, and Israel on Sunday offered to help as well.

But Sky News sources have learned that the militants are likely to have laid booby traps and landmines to stop the girls being found.

Earlier, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned of the difficulties of negotiating with an "utterly merciless" group like Boko Haram, but called for active contact with the Nigerian Islamists over the abduction of the girls.

Welby has experience of negotiating with violent groups in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, and with a predecessor to Boko Haram around Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state where the group started out.

In an interview with BBC radio the archbishop said the girls faced a "colossal" risk.

"They're in the hands of a very disparate group which is extremely irrational and difficult to deal with and utterly merciless in the example it's shown in the past, and it must be a huge concern," he said.

Asked if it is possible to talk to groups like Boko Haram, he said: "They're in many layers. You have a very, very difficult inner core. and I think negotiation there is extremely complicated, though it needs to be tried.

"Then it goes out and out in different layers of commitment and understanding and involvement.

"There needs to be active negotiation, active contact with all the different layers."

He said Boko Haram has "always been a mixture of groups united as much by a common enemy as by a common cause".

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria kidnappings

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