Talks between the Nigerian government and terror group Boko Haram are ongoing, the country's minister of information has claimed. Alhaji Lai Mohammed denied allegations Nigeria had interrupted dialogue with the terrorists regarding the release of nearly 200 girls held captive by the group.
Rumours that talks had been interrupted spread after attacks blamed on Boko Haram killed at least six people in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, earlier in November.
"It is not true. Talks are still very much on course," Mohammed told the Guardian Nigeria newspaper.
Boko Haram abducted 219 schoolgirls from Chibok, a village in the restive Borno state, in April 2014.
One Chibok girl was rescued by the army in November.
Earlier this year, a Boko Haram faction released 21 of the girls following negotiations brokered by Switzerland and the Red Cross.
Reports alleged that the government had freed some militants in exchange for the girls, something authorities have since denied.
Shortly after, another faction claimed it was holding another 83 Chibok girls and was willing to negotiate their release.
In May, the Nigerian army rescued another girl in the Sambisa forest. Following recent developments, it is believed at least 196 are still missing.
It led to the creation of the global movement Bring Back Our Girls, which shone a spotlight on the deadly insurgency of Boko Haram that had previously been under-reported.
Earlier this month, an ongoing military offensive dubbed "Operation Lafiya Dole" resulted in the release of 19 women and 19 children held hostages in Dumba village, Borno.
The Nigerian army is also leading a regional force – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – against Boko Haram.
The offensive has scored some successes, such as the recapture of key territories and the recovery of arms and vehicles used by the terrorists during their attacks.
Although Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared a technical victory over the fight against the insurgents in December 2105, Boko Haram still carries out attacks, with security experts warning that underlying issues such as disenfranchisement, poverty and strong links with the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) will continue to pose major threats to stability in the region.
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