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Nigeria announces bounty on Boko Haram leaders

Nigeria has offered a reward for information that leads to the capture of members of Boko Haram, an Islamist sect that has claimed past attacks on Christians. Nineteen members of the sect now have a price on their heads.

This image taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathizers shows the leader of the radical Islamist sect Imam Abubakar Shekau made available Wednesday Jan. 10, 2012. The video of Imam Abubakar Shekau cements his leadership in the sect known as Boko Haram. Analysts and diplomats say the sect has fractured over time, with a splinter group responsible for the majority of the assassinations and bombings carried out in its name. (AP Photo) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL

Nigeria Terror Leiter der Terrorgruppe Boko Haram Sektenführer Imam Abubakar Shekau

The Nigerian army said on Saturday it was offering the equivalent of $1.8 million (1.4 million euros) for information that led to the capture of 19 leading members of Boko Haram.

Sect leader Abubakar Shekau (pictured above) has had a bounty set at $312,000, while four other top officials have $156,000 rewards. Fourteen additional 'commanders' now carry a bounty of $62,500.

"They are wanted in connection with terrorist activities particularly in the northeast zone," a statement by the military Joint Task Force in the northeastern state of Borno said on Saturday. "(This) led to the killings, bombings and assassination of civilians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen, politicians, civil servants and security personnel."

Boko Haram is fighting for the establishment of Shariah law in Nigeria and has been blamed for terror attacks against the country's Christians in the past. Since 2009, around 1,400 people have been killed in such violence.

The attacks are one of the biggest security problems in Africa's most populous country, which is divided roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

The Nigerian goverment was accused earlier this month in a report from Amnesty International of massive human rights violations in their efforts to fight Boko Haram

mz/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)