With an assault rifle held close to his chest, the leader of Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram threatened to kill teachers and raze schools following an attack earlier this month that killed 42 students and one teacher.
In a 15-minute video released over the weekend, Abubakar Shekau denied his group's involvement in the July 6 boarding school attack in Yobe, saying, "Our religion does not permit us to touch small children and women."
However, Shekau said teachers who provide western education remain targets. Indeed, seven teachers — some of whom burned alive — have been killed since June, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.
"Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them. We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Quran," Shekau said. “We are going to burn down the schools, if they are not Islamic religious schools for Allah.”
There had been talk of a ceasefire deal, with reports suggesting that last week the government signed an agreement with Boko Haram's second-in-command, but Shekau dismissed the idea.
“We will not enter into any agreement with non-believers or the Nigerian government,” he said.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, has sent thousands of troops to fight Boko Haram, with President Goodluck Jonathan declaring a state of emergency in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
In a statement last month, Abu Zinnira, a spokesman for the radical Islamist sect whose name means "western education is sacrilege," declared that certain young vigilantes were against Boko Haram.
"We have established that the youth in Borno and Yobe states are now against our course," Zinnira said in a statement. "They have connived with security operatives and are actively supporting the government of Nigeria in its war against us. We have also resolved to fight back."
Boko Haram has killed about 1,600 people in terrorist attacks since 2010, according to a count by the Associated Press.