The Nigerian military's Joint Task Force has killed nine suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group in the northern Nigerian town of Tudun Wada, about 60 miles from the city of Kano. The suspected militants were killed shortly after they had reportedly used explosive devices in an attempt to destroy Divisional Police headquarters.
The suspected sect members also appear to have used explosives to destroy a nearby bank, but police officials say that the militants failed to take away the money inside. All the bank’s money appears to have remained intact.
Wednesday’s attack follows a shooting attack on Tuesday in the Sharada section of Kano, where gunmen on a motorcycle shot into a crowd, killing at least three people. Boko Haram is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 people since its armed rebellion began in 2009. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claims to be fighting to overthrow the secular government of Nigeria, seeking instead a nationwide application of traditional Islamic sharia law. Yet some analysts believe that the rebellion is primarily aimed at a corrupt Muslim elite of politicians who use their power for their own enrichment, rather than for the improvement of the relatively impoverished areas of the north.
The attacks come at a time when the Nigerian government has reportedly entered negotiations with Boko Haram through local intermediaries. According to one senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Agence France-Presse news agency, "There have been preliminary talks between a Boko Haram-appointed intermediary." But given the fractious nature of the Boko Haram militancy, Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group told Al Jazeera that it’s not entirely certain whether the Nigerian government is talking to Boko Haram as a whole, or just members of a breakaway faction.
Nigeria has often used negotiations, amnesty programs, and cash payouts as a means for ending insurgencies, particularly against armed groups in the volatile and oil-rich Niger Delta region.
At a press conference held at Kano’s Bukavu Barracks, Brig. Gen. Iliyasu Abba, commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Nigerian Army, told reporters that two suspected Boko Haram militants were captured alive during the encounter and would undergo interrogation.
These two suspects were paraded before reporters at the press conference, along with the bodies of the nine killed. Iliyasu said that soldiers had mobilized from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., cordoning off the area, and killing the nine suspected militants in a firefight.
Soldiers recovered two AK-47s, three pistols, two small guns, one long-range rifle, and 29 magazines of ammunition.
Iliyasu advised people to maintain a safe distance whenever the Nigerian Army carries out combat operations, to avoid been hit by stray bullets. The Joint Task Force is poised to “contain the menace of the hoodlums” in order for Nigeria to have peace.