Nigeria offers rewards for Boko Haram leaders

Abubakar Shekau
Image caption Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the United States

Nigeria's military is offering large rewards for information leading to the capture of leaders of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Military officials said 50m naira ($317,000; £197,709) was offered for help in tracking down the group's suspected leader Abubakar Shekau.

Other alleged commanders have around 10m naira on their head.

Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency since 2009 to impose strict Sharia law across Nigeria.

The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against churches and other establishments since 2009. More than 640 people have died so far this year in attacks blamed on the group.

"They are wanted in connection with terrorist activities particularly in the north-east zone of Nigeria that led to the killings, bombings and assassination of some civilians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen, politicians, civil servants and security personnel amongst others," a military statement said.

"They are also wanted for arson and destruction of properties worth millions of naira."

Abubakar Shekau was one of three Boko Haram leaders designated terrorists by the United States in June. The other two, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, are thought to have ties with a branch of al-Qaeda.

A reward was offered by the Nigerian military for Khalid Barnawi on Friday but not Abubakar Kambar, AFP news agency reports.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sacrilege" in the Hausa language, is based in the dominantly Muslim north of Nigeria.

The south of the oil rich country is mostly Christian.

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