Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The violent Islamic sect Boko Haram has denied reports credited to Nigeria's military Joint Task Force (JTF) that it killed 20 of its (sect) members in a shootout in Maiduguri, capital of northern Borno state, over the weekend.
''They (JTF) only succeeded in killing innocent civilians. It is not possible for 20 of our members to sit in a volatile place and hold meeting; it is not possible,'' the local media Monday quoted sect spokesman Abul Qaqa as saying.
He said the group would not relent in its offensive until a Sharia State has been established across Nigeria.
The JTF Field Operations Officer in Borno, Col. Victory Ebhaleme, who confirmed the killing on Sunday, also said one soldier was killed while two others were injured in the shootout.
''We got intelligence report that some suspected Boko Haram terrorists were having a meeting at a particular location in the metropolis. As we approached the venue of their meeting the suspects opened fire on the JTF which led to the killing of 20 of them, while we lost one soldier and two others sustained injury,” he said.
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks, mostly in the predominantly-Muslim northern Nigeria, in recent times, shattering the hopes that it will slow down during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan fasting.
The group has also shunned government overtures for a dialogue to resolve the crisis, instead calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to resign and convert to Islam. The President has rebuffed the call.
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram has killed over 1,400 people since it launched its violent
campaign in 2009.
-0- PANA SEG 13Aug2012