Muslim sect in Nigeria demands troop withdrawal

A radical Muslim sect responsible for killings across northeastern Nigeria demanded on Monday that troops withdraw from the troubled region and that the government rebuild destroyed mosques.

A spokesperson for the sect, known locally as Boko Haram, issued the demand after the group recently claimed responsibility for killing seven people, including the dominant gubernatorial candidate in Borno state.

The spokesperson, who identified himself as Abu Suleiman, told the BBC’s Hausa language service that the sect would not stop its attacks until the government met the conditions.

“People’s security of lives and property are in the hands of almighty God,” the man said in a radio interview. “The soldiers deployed to Borno state and some neighbouring states may not bring an end to the serial attacks and killings in Maiduguri.”

Authorities thought they destroyed Boko Haram in 2009 after Nigeria’s military crushed its mosque into concrete shards, and its leader was arrested and died in police custody. But now, a year later, Maiduguri and surrounding villages again live in fear of the group. Western diplomats also worry that the sect is catching the attention of al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch.

Last week, the group claimed responsibility for the killing of Modu Fannami Gubio, a candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party, and six others through posters pasted at the post office, railway station and other locations in Maiduguri.

This isn’t the first time the group has issued demands through the BBC. In October, the group demanded an amnesty deal from the Nigerian government, as well as the right to again practice their religion openly.

In the past, the group has demanded the implementation of a strict version of Shariah in Nigeria, a country split between a predominantly Christian south and Muslim north. A dozen states in northern Nigeria already have a version of the Islamic law in place, though they remain ruled by secular governments.—Sapa-AP

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