Nigeria in talks with Boko Haram
27 August 2012, 15:38
Abuja - Nigeria's government has reached out to members of Islamist militant group Boko Haram through back-channel talks in a bid to end an insurgency that has killed hundreds, the president's spokesperson said.
"The form of the dialogue is that backroom channels are being used to reach across with the sole objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are, what exactly can be done to resolve the crises," Reuben Abati told journalists.
He said the effort was being made "in the overall best interest of ensuring peace and stability in Nigeria and the security of life and property".
Abati's comments were the first official confirmation of back-channel dialogue with the Islamists, though the government has previously signalled some form of dialogue was underway.
What is believed to be the main branch of Boko Haram has however repeatedly ruled out dialogue, though the group is believed to have a number of factions with differing aims - something Abati also spoke about.
Boko Haram is accused of killing more than 1 400 people in northern and central Nigeria since 2010.
The group has pressed for the creation of an Islamic state in Africa's most populous country and biggest oil producer, though its demands have repeatedly shifted.
A previous attempt at dialogue earlier this year collapsed when a mediator quit over leaks to the government and a purported Boko Haram spokesperson said the government could not be trusted.