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Nigeria to free Boko Haram members

Military says it will release a number of Boko Haram members, including all women, in what it calls a peace bid.

Last Modified: 21 May 2013 19:21
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Nigeria has announced it will release a number of Boko Haram members, including all women, in what it called a peace bid as its military waged operation in the country's northeast to clamp down on the armed group.

The news of the prisoner release was announced on Tuesday shortly after the government relaxed the curfew in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and a stronghold of Boko Haram, which has been fighting the government to enforce Islamic laws.

"The (prisoner release) measure, which is in line with presidential magnanimity to enhance peace efforts in the country, will result in freedom for suspects including all women under custody," a statement by defence spokesperson Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade said.

Olukolade's statement said President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered the prisoner releases on the recommendation of a panel he set up to seek a political solution to the conflict.

Jonathan offered an amnesty on Sunday to fighters who surrender, a sign he is keen to keep channels for a peaceful way out of the conflict open as far as possible.

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the base of the military offensive, said the detained Boko Haram suspects will be released to the state governors "for rehabilitation and eventual release back to the community".

Our correspondent is also reporting that all women connected to Boko Haram activities will also be released.

In his latest video this month, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau accused security forces of detaining the wives and children of its members.

Earlier, the city residents were able to go outside their homes during the day after the army issued a statement late on Monday easing the curfew from 7am local time (06:00 GMT) until 5pm (16:00 GMT).

Nigeria's military on Saturday imposed a 24-hour curfew in parts of the northeastern city, as soldiers poured in the region that saw people fleeing from their homes.

The country launched the sweeping operation last week, deploying thousands of troops across three states - Adamawa, Borno and Yobe - where President Jonathan declared a state of emergency a week ago after the fighters seized territory and chased out the government.

The military said dozens of fighters had been killed in the offensive targeting all three states put under emergency decree.

About 120 of the fighters have also been arrested and are being interrogated, the military said in a statement.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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