Nigeria ups ante in Boko Haram hunt

2012-11-23 22:09
Nigerian soldier

Nigerian soldier

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kano - Nigeria's military on Friday offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in rewards for information leading to the capture of leaders of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

A statement listed 19 alleged senior members of the extremist group blamed for hundreds of deaths in connection with its insurgency in northern and central Nigeria.

The rewards ranged from 50 million naira ($317 000) for the suspected leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, to 10 million naira for various Boko Haram "commanders".

"They are wanted in connection with terrorist activities particularly in the northeast zone of Nigeria that led to the killings, bombings and assassination of some civilians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen, politicians, civil servants and security personnel amongst others," a military statement said.

"They are also wanted for arson and destruction of properties worth millions of naira."

In June, the United States designated three Nigerian Islamist extremists "global terrorists" but declined to label Boko Haram a terrorist group, citing its domestic focus, among other issues.

The three named by the US state department were Shekau as well as Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, both said to have ties to a regional al-Qaeda group.

Friday's statement offering rewards listed both Shekau and al-Barnawi, but not Kambar.

Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, who issued the statement on behalf of a military task force operating in the country's northeast, did not respond to phone calls.

Violence linked to Boko Haram's insurgency is believed to have left about 3 000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

The group has claimed to be seeking an Islamist state in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer whose population is roughly divided between Christians and Muslims.

However, its demands have repeatedly shifted and it is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs that carry out violence while posing as members of the group.

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