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Nigeria - exclusive interview with sect leader

Boko Haram vows to continue attacks

Article published on the 2009-07-29 Latest update 2009-07-30 09:56 TU

Alleged members of Boko Haram sit after their arrest in Kano in northern Nigeria by police on 27 July 2009(Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Alleged members of Boko Haram sit after their arrest in Kano in northern Nigeria by police on 27 July 2009
(Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

One of the leaders of the armed Islamist group fighting security forces in northern Nigeria has said they are continuing their attacks against police in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims in Jos and Bauchi.

Boko Haram is holding nine police officers and four army personnel, Ibrahim Khalil Zarkawi, the group's leader in Yobe, Azare and Kano told RFI's Hausa service. He said that two of the police officers were women.

Fighting between police and armed Islamists, which began on Sunday and has now affected four states in northern Nigeria, has claimed the lives of at least 300 people.

“We are attacking police because they killed our brothers in Jos and Bauchi,” Zarkawi told Bashir Ibrahim Idris of RFI’s Hausa service. “There isn't good leadership in Nigeria. Muslims are being killed daily and the authorities are doing nothing about it. These are the reasons why we are retaliating against the police, because they are the ones who killed our brothers.”

Zarkawi, who said he was speaking from the Potiskum-Damaturu road in Yobe state, said the group had already brought their grievances before the government.

“We've done that but the judiciary did not act on our petition,” he said. “Everybody kept quiet. Our leaders are not saying anything - our president refused to act. The police are taking advantage of their position to kill us. That was why we decided to take law into our hands, because enough is enough.

“We have the necessary arms to attack. At the moment we've sealed Borno State. We won't stop until we've achieved our mission, and we have God on our side. The police claimed they killed 150 of our members, Boko Haram. It’s not true. We are intact and we will continue to attack.”

Zarkawi acknowledged that innocent people were suffering but blamed the government for failing to intervene earlier.

“The government did the same to us. Our President, who is a Muslim, refused to act in stopping the maiming of Muslims in Jos and Bauchi.

"We want to show the government that it doesn't have the wherewithal to deal with us. It's after that that we would start talking to government.”

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