Suspected member of Islamist militant sect Boko Haram
Suspected member of Islamist militant sect Boko Haram

Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings that targeted three newspapers on Thursday killing at least eight people in the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Kaduna.

The sect was fed up with misrepresentations in the press and lack of balance in reports concerning their actions and purposes, Abul Qaqa, a spokesman for Boko Haram told Premium Times.

"We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports," Abul Qaqa said. "This is a war between us and the government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side."

The Abuja attack targeted the offices of This Day, an influential daily newspaper seen as supportive of the regime. In Kaduna a bomb went off in a building housing three newspapers - This Day, The Moment and the Daily Sun. All are supportive of the government.

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack as "ignoble, misguided, horrendous and wicked".

The government, he said, would "continue to uphold the constitutional right to freedom of express in general and press freedom in particular".

"Criminal elements bent on instilling fear in the minds of Nigerians and foreigners will not succeed."

Misrepresentation and blasphemy

Boko Haram's spokesman attacked media in the country for reporting on rumours of his capture by Nigerian intelligence agencies, for reporting on the kidnappings of foreigners in the Northern part of Nigeria and mistranslating a video the group posted recently.

Abul Qaqa directed his criticism to This Day for its negative media campaign against Boko Haram and for blasphemy towards Prophet Mohammed.

"They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten," he said. "They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy."

Boko Haram wants to impose Sharia law across Nigeria. The 160m-strong population is split roughly between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

The group recently published a video threatening to bring down President Goodluck Jonathan's regime within three months.

"Expect further attacks on the media"

Abul Qaqa threatened further attacks on the media.

"We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage," he said.

"The media in Nigeria are not a problem to us if they will do their job professionally without taking sides. But each time we say something, it is either changed or downplayed. But when our enemy says something even without logical proof, it is blown out of proportion."

Press freedom organisations such as Reporters without Borders (RWB) condemned Boko Haram attacks on newspaper, stressing the importance of adopting concrete measures to defend journalists in the country.

"While hailing President Jonathan's pledge to defend press freedom, we urge him to take full stock of the terrible dangers to which journalists are exposed," Reporters Without Borders said with a statement "After yesterday's tragedies and the cold-blooded killings of at least two media personnel in recent months, there is no longer any doubt that the media and journalists are among the targets of those who carry out attacks and bombings in Nigeria. "

"In consultation with media owners and executives, the authorities should adopt concrete measures to ensure that journalists are protected and to reinforce security around news media buildings and offices," RWB said.