The leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram denied that it entered into a cease-fire agreement with the government and endorsed an attack last week on a school in northeast Yobe state.
Abubakar Shekau, in a video message sent to reporters today, denied claims by Nigerian Minister of Special Duties Kabiru Turaki this week that a cease-fire was reached on July 8 after talks with the group’s deputy leader, Mohammed Marwan.
“Let me assure you that we will not enter into any truce with these infidels,” Shekau said. “We will not enter into any truce with the Nigerian government.”
Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, has killed thousands of people in gun and bomb attacks since 2009 in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja in its campaign to establish an Islamic state in Africa’s largest oil producer. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are roughly split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north.
The purported cease-fire came in effect two days after 20 students and a teacher were killed in an attack on a secondary school in the northeastern state of Yobe. Eli Lazarus, a spokesman for the joint military and police task force in Yobe, said the attack was probably carried out by Boko Haram.
“We believe in the massacre inflicted on the secondary school in Mamudo and Damaturu and other schools; we earlier warned that we are going to burn all schools,” Shekau said. “They are schools purposely built to fight Islam.”
While Boko Haram doesn’t attack “children and young girls or old women,” he said, “teachers that teach Western education, we are supposed to kill them in the presence of their students.”
The military began an air and ground offensive against Boko Haram on May 16, two days after President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to step up the fight against the Islamist militants. The insurgents were taking over parts of Borno state, according to Jonathan.