Boko Haram, a Islamist group in Nigeria, denied on Monday that 20 of its fighters had been killed by Nigerian security forces in Maiduguri yesterday, instead claiming all those killed were civilians.
According to a security officer, a mixed military and police force, who had been tipped off about a Boko Haram meeting on Sunday, had been fired on when they approached the site of the meeting, Reuters reported. They killed 20 men, and lost one soldier in the shootout in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
“When we approached the venue of their meeting point, the terrorists opened fire on the JTF, which led to the killing of 20 terrorists while we lost one soldier and two others sustained injury,” said Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, field operations officer of the military and police mixed Joint Task Force in Borno to Reuters.
Boko Haram is modeled on the Taliban and is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. According to Reuters, Nigeria's 160 million people are split evenly between Christians and Muslims.
Islamists have killed hundreds in gun and bomb attacks in Nigeria, which is Africa’s top energy producer, since their uprising began in 2012. Though the violence has mainly centered on Maiduguri and other parts of the the north, which is predominantly Muslim, it has spread across central Nigeria in the past year.
A military crackdown on the sect by the Nigerian government in the past few months has had mixed results. Though Boko Haram has been apparently weakened by the offensive, it has fueled some sentment against President Goodluck Jonathan’s government in a poor region that has often felt left out of the country’s oil wealth, which is concentrated in the south.
According to All-Africa.com, the Christian Association in Nigerian (CAN) released a statement asking Jonathan to resign. The statement claims the CAN has faulted President Goodluck Jonathan's handling of the activities of Boko Haram, saying that the president has failed Nigerians and should resign.