- No prisoner swap for missing girls –Jonathan
- Boko Haram ‘to announce negotiator’
By Lawrence Olaoye, Abuja with agency reports
At least 200 suspected Boko Haram insurgents, who laid siege on Kalabalge town in Borno North, were said to have been massacred early yesterday by a vigilante group in the town.
A warrior in the battle of Kalabalge who pleaded anonymity disclosed to the Hausa service of the BBC yesterday, that: “We killed many of them [Boko Haram members] today”.
Several other residents disclosed that members of the community had received advance information that Boko Haram’s death squads were on their way to wreak havoc in the area.
“Once we got the information, we gathered many of our young men and positioned ourselves in surrounding bushes and forests. We were armed with bows and arrows, Dane guns and pump action rifles,” said one of the villagers.
The sources added that some 400 Boko Haram militants wearing army uniforms arrived in Kalabalge around 5am in two armoured tanks, eight Hilux pick-up vehicles, and seven sports utility vehicles (SUVS), all painted in Nigerian Army colours.
The terrorists however received the shock of their lives from the ambush of the community’s vigilantes. The Boko Haram attackers were allegedly overwhelmed by the residents’ surprise firepower.
A security agent confided in one of our reporters that the villagers killed several of the attackers and captured no fewer than 10 of them, even though the rest of the terrorists scampered off into the bush, some of them with injuries.
The security source disclosed that some village vigilantes lost their lives while a few sustained gunshot wounds.
Kalabalge community is a few kilometers from Gamboru-Ngala where sect members killed at least 300 people last week Tuesday.
Our security source said Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state is expected to visit Kalabalge later this week.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday affirmed that his government would never swap the kidnapped girls of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, for the arrested suspected members of the Boko Haram sect in various detention centres across the country.
But there were also indications that Boko Haram may have resolved to announce a negotiator to engage the federal government on the modalities and conditions for the release of the over 200 kidnapped girls.
In defiance to the insinuations that the government was considering the option of swapping the Chibok girls in exchange for the release of some arrested Boko Haram members, President Jonathan said he would not succumb to pressure to do such.
British minister, Mark Simmonds, who was in Nigeria for talks about the international rescue mission, said he raised the issue with Jonathan during a meeting in Abuja yesterday.
“I did discussed this with the president and he made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners,” he told reporters, yesterday in Abuja.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram is preparing to announce a list of key militants that it wants released in exchange for its schoolgirl hostages, The Telegraph, a British newspapers has revealed.
Sources close to the group, according to The Telegraph, sad that an Islamic cleric from northern Nigeria will be authorised to negotiate on its behalf with the Nigerian government, and to seek a freed prisoner for every one of the kidnapped girls.
The name of the cleric involved and of the key commanders to be freed is expected to be revealed by yesterday, the newspaper wrote.
The group will give the cleric “clear terms of reference” for how it wants the negotiations to be conducted, and will also spell out the practical details of how it would set the girls free.
As well as senior commanders, the list of prisoners to be freed is expected to include a number of militants’ relatives who have been detained by Nigerian government to put pressure on the group’s leadership.
Details of the proposed deal were revealed on Tuesday night by a source close to some of the militants’ families in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Though the name of the cleric was not mentioned by the British newspaper’s source, our reporter learnt that National President of Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Sharia, Dr. Datti Ahmad, is likely to be the chosen negotiator for the sect.
While the Nigerian government has publicly insisted that it will not negotiate with the kidnappers, some believe that in practice a prisoner swap may be inevitable given the sheer difficulty of freeing the captives by force.