Nigerian Islamists say no ceasefire

2011-07-14 09:42

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Kano - Nigerian Islamists blamed for a raft of bombings will not halt their attacks unless troops are withdrawn from the epicentre of the violence, a man claiming to be their spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"We can cease fire if soldiers are withdrawn from Maiduguri because there is no way we can accept any peace deal when thousands of soldiers are being deployed to the city," Abu Zaid told journalists on a conference call.

"If government is really sincere in the restoration of peace, let all soldiers from the streets go back to the barracks."

President Goodluck Jonathan has deployed hundreds of troops to the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, which has seen the brunt of the violence blamed on a sect known as Boko Haram.

Thousands of residents have fled the city, fearing more violence linked to Islamist attacks and soldiers' response.

Troops were accused of targeting civilians last weekend and burning their homes after accusing them of complicity with the sect, which the military denies.

The state government in Borno, where Maiduguri is the capital, issued a statement on Wednesday pledging that military operations would be conducted responsibly.

"Adequate measures have now been taken by government to ensure that security operations would henceforth be undertaken with a human face and with absolute respect for the freedom of movement ...," it said.

Bomb blasts and shootings blamed on the sect have intensified in recent weeks and now occur almost daily. The group has claimed to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state.

Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa
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