Nigeria - Boko Haram Rule Out Peace Talks, Threaten Media


Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram ruled out on Thursday holding peace talks with the government and threatened to strike media houses it said fight the group "with the pen".
The local press and at least two foreign news organisations have reported that talks are going on between the government and the militants who have been staging an insurgency against it, citing unnamed sources.

Information minister Labaran Maku declined comment on Wednesday on the talks, citing government instructions not to discuss the issue.
Since launching an insurgency against the government in 2009 with the avowed aim of turning all or part of religiously-mixed Nigeria into an Islamic state, Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in near daily gun and bomb attacks.
"We are telling the government to understand that if it is not ready to embrace sharia (Islamic law) and the Koran as the guiding book from which the laws of the land derive, there shall be no peace," the sect's spokesman Abu Qaqa said in a written statement in the northeast city of Maiduguri, the heart of the rebellion.
Boko Haram has replaced militancy in the creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta as the biggest security threat to Nigeria, Africa's top energy producer. A flurry of efforts to start talks followed accusations early this year that President Goodluck Jonathan was treating the crisis too narrowly as a security issue.
But attempts at dialogue are complicated by Boko Haram's shadowy nature and the fact there sometimes appears to be more than one faction. The main one, led by Abubakar Shekau, has never shown any overt interest in dialogue.
Qaqa also threatened media houses, recalling the sect's dual bomb attack on local newspaper ThisDay in the capital Abuja and northern city of Kaduna in April that killed five people.
"They should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with arms and with the pen," he said.

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