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Nigeria Confirms Talks With Boko Haram Through Backroom Channels

The Nigerian government says it has begun negotiations with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and clarified that they are not formal and direct, but through multi-level backroom channels.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said on Sunday that it was not a face-to-face talk between the two sides, but back room channels were being used to understand the group's grievances, and ways to resolve the crisis.

"And all of this is consistent with the position of the President (Goodluck Jonathan). So, what is called dialogue is at many levels: through back room channels and multi-level, constructive interventions to address a difficult issue that is multifarious," he said.

This is the first time that the Nigerian government is confirming dialogue with the radical outfit, which did not take off in its initial attempt.

Abati acknowledged the existence of several factions within the group, the main faction of which earlier this week ruled out peace talks expressing disgust with impostors perpetrating crimes in its name.

Abati said that the Boko spokesperson made it clear that they were prepared to identify and check those who were using the name for political and criminal motives.

The Boko sect is based in the mainly Muslim north and campaigns against Western education, which it considers as anti-Islamic. It wants strict enforcement of Islamic laws in Nigeria after overthrowing the current government. More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in Nigeria since the terror outfit began its campaign of violence in 2009.

Boko have bombed several Christian churches and carried out frequent attacks on police stations, military facilities and banks for the last three years.

by RTT Staff Writer

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