Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The violent Islamic sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for Thursday's coordinated attacks on Nigeria's private Thisday newspaper, which caused the death of five persons and left many more injured.
According to the online Nigerian website "Premium Times", the bombings of Thisday's offices in the capital city of Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna also signalled the start of attacks on the media for allegedly "misrepresenting" the sect.
The website quoted Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaga as saying Thisday was targeted in particular because the paper's "sins" were more grievous.
“It is not only THISDAY that has been engaged in negative media campaign, fictional tories and constantly promoting fake stories by the JTF (military Joint Task Force) to give an impression that they are making headway against us yet there is no time the media investigated further as an objective and responsible bystander in this war.
“But the sins of THISDAY are more,” Qaga said. “They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten.
"They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy.”
The sect gave three reasons why it had decided to target the media: the rumour of the spokesman's capture by the State Security Service (SSS); misrepresentation of the sect's comments on the kidnapping of foreigners in the north and the alleged misrepresentation of the video which the sect recently posted on YouTube.
"I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria; but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines,” the sect's spokesman was quoted as saying.
“We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side,” Mr. Qaqa was quoted as saying.
He said the sect, which has killed hundreds in its gun and bomb attacks, has just started "this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage.”
“The media in Nigeria are not a problem to us if they will do their job professionally without taking sides,” Mr. Qaqa said. “But each time we say something, it is either changed or downplayed. But when our enemy says something even without logical proof, it is blown out of proportion.”
Thursday's attacks marked the first time the sect would attack any media organization in the country, though the sect had been responsible for the death of two local journalists in the past.
-0- PANA SEG/MA 26April2012