Nigeria: Government Begins Indirect Dialogue with Boko Haram, Sokoto Kidnapping Fallout Continues

Reuters reports that Nigeria’s government has begun indirect talks with the rebel sect Boko Haram:

Nigeria’s government has in the last week held its first indirect peace talks with Islamist sect Boko Haram, meeting mediators to discuss a possible ceasefire, political and diplomatic sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Two people close to Boko Haram have been carrying messages back and forth between the sect’s self-proclaimed leader Abubakar Shekau and government officials, the sources, who asked not to be named, said.

It was not clear whether any mediators met with President Goodluck Jonathan himself. A presidency spokesman said he could not immediately comment.

This step has been a long time in the making. Whether you think it wise or foolish, productive or useless, it was probably inevitable. Government committees have suggested it, civil society groups have urged it, and a strategy of pure repression has not halted Boko Haram’s spread.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of the failed rescue of two European hostages in Sokoto continues. Nigeria has accepted partial responsibility for the failure of the operation. Also, a man named “Abu Muhammad,” allegedly a “factional leader of Boko Haram” and “mastermind” of the kidnapping, died in custody after being captured in Zaria. The State Security Service has also arrested a number of young men in five states – Adamawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, and Sokoto (this list includes area from the far Northwest and the Northeast) – whom it says were involved with the kidnapping.

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