As Boko Haram intensifies its fight against the Nigerian government to establish an Islamic state, ties between Boko Haram and the local government have been discovered. What does this mean for persecuted Christians?
10/22/2012 Nigeria (BBCNews) – Several Nigerian soldiers have been killed by suspected Islamist militants in the north-eastern town of Potiskum, an army source has told the BBC.
The town has seen days of violence, with 31 reported killed and hundreds of residents fleeing since Thursday.
Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the government and impose Sharia law.
On Friday, the army said it had detained a senior commander of the group, Shuaibu Muhammed Bama, at a senator’s home in Maiduguri, which is where Boko Haram was founded.
The claim has fuelled suspicion that politicians are helping the militants.
BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross reports that the conflict in Potiskum has reached an unprecedented level, with gunfights, bombings and targeted killings.
In the latest violence, suspected Boko Haram gunmen hurled a bomb at a military patrol.
At least 31 people have killed in Potiskum since Thursday, Nigeria’s This Day newspaper reports.
Hundreds of residents are also fleeing, but some are stranded because of a shortage of vehicles to take them out of town, reports say.
The army’s claim that the alleged militant commander was held in a senator’s house has once again fuelled the debate on whether politicians are helping the Islamist group, our correspondent says.
Last year, another senator, also from Borno state, was arrested and charged over links to Boko Haram.
The senator denied any wrongdoing and was later released on bail.
Analysts suggest that some politicians in northern Nigeria are prepared to side with the militants in order to discredit the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from the south of the country, our correspondent adds.
Nigeria is roughly divided between a largely Muslim north, and the south, where Christianity and traditional religions dominate.