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Onlookers view the wreckage of a car bomb that exploded outside a church near Madalla, Nigeria on Christmas Day, 2011 killing scores of people. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack. (AP)

Nigerian Leaders May Be In Talks With Boko Haram Militants

Mar 15, 2012

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Korva Coleman

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Nigerian authorities may be holding indirect talks with leaders of Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group responsible for scores of bombing attacks, according to Reuters. The militant group is infamous for its violence, such as the bombing of the UN building in Abuja last August, and deadly church bombings on Christmas Day, 2011 that killed 35.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have died in the violence triggered by Boko Haram, according to AFP.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has been under pressure to stop the attacks, aimed at churches, government buildings and elementary schools: Human Rights Watch reports Boko Haram, whose name translates to "Western education is forbidden or sinful", has burned down more than 12 schools since the start of this year.

Myjoyonline.com, a news service based in Ghana, reports Nigerian leaders have accepted advice from a government committee to open negotiations with Boko Haram, provided the group gives up violence.

Nigeria's information minister, says the recommendation is part of a larger review of the causes of poverty and violence in the country. He notes the "massive unemployment of youths", violent militias, provocative preaching, extra-judicial killings of Boko Haram leaders by Nigerian officers, and the government's failure to deliver services. He says the government will review the advice.

But Reuters reports two people have already carried messages between Boko Haram and Nigerian officials in the past week. Boko Haram is reportedly willing to consider a limited truce in return for the release for all its members. Nigeria is reportedly against a full release but is willing to consider releasing lower level members.

Any talks could also highlight problems with social mobility in northern Nigeria, according to Nigerian columnist Ochereome Nnanna, who writes northern Nigerian officials misuse government funds at the expense of the poor. He says "Boko Haram is a misguided rise of the underclass against the overlords in the North". (HT-Christian Science Monitor)

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