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Nigerian Vice President Says Boko Haram Cease-Fire Is Welcome

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s government recognizes and welcomes a cease-fire announced by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and is considering how to respond to it, Vice President Namadi Sambo said today.

Sambo’s statement was the first official response to a cease-fire announced Jan. 28 by a self-proclaimed Boko Haram spokesman. Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz told reporters in Maiduguri then that the group agreed to put down arms on the condition that its members were freed from prisons. Abdulaziz said the group made the decision after meetings with the Borno state government.

“We welcome the cease-fire offer announced recently by the Boko Haram group and we will do everything as a government to see that we achieve a lasting peace in Nigeria,” Sambo told reporters today in Maiduguri, the Borno capital. “That is why the federal government is seriously consulting on the best approach to handle the cease-fire offer.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous nation, has been battling an insurgency by Boko Haram that’s killed hundreds of people since 2009. The group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, has carried out bomb and gun attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja.

A day after the cease-fire was announced, Nigeria’s Joint Military Task Force, backed by helicopter gunships, raided two Boko Haram camps in Borno and killed 17 of their members in gunfights, while one soldier was killed in the clashes on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, Sagir Musa, spokesman for the force, said in Borno.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gbenga Akingbule in Maiduguri at gakingbule@bloomberg.net; Maram Mazen in Abuja at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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