Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s office denied an Al Jazeera report that civilians had been killed in the military’s offensive against Islamist militants.
A video, which Al Jazeera said late yesterday was taken by a unidentified Nigerian soldier of the current military operation, was actually of another incident on May 7 in the northeastern town of Bama, Reuben Abati, a presidential spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement. On May 7, Boko Haram militants wearing army uniforms attacked a barracks, a prison and a police station in the town of Bama, killing at least 42 people and freeing 105 inmates, officials said at the time, adding that 13 militants also died.
The military of Africa’s largest oil producer began an air and ground offensive against Boko Haram on May 16, after Jonathan imposed emergency rule on May 14 in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to step up the fight against Islamist militants. The insurgents were taking over parts of Borno state, according to Jonathan.
The network’s claim that the man in uniform, who didn’t show his face, is a soldier “cannot be sustained” as Boko Haram members are known to wear military uniforms, said Abati. “No soldier has left the frontiers since the beginning of the operations.”.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the local Hausa language, has carried out attacks across Nigeria’s north and in Abuja, the capital, since police killed its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, while in custody for his role in clashes with the security forces in 2009. The group says it wants Islamic rule in Africa’s most populous country, almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.
Jonathan’s emergency rule declaration followed violence in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, in which as many as 228 people were killed after security forces responded to an attack by militants on April 16, according to local officials.
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