Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram have been in indirect talks to end deadly violence blamed on the Islamist group, sources familiar with the discussions have revealed.
"There have been preliminary talks between a Boko Haram-appointed intermediary," a senior security official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, adding that Boko Haram has set out terms for a temporary ceasefire.
The diplomatic source said contact had been made between Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram through intermediaries.
The security official said Boko Haram has proposed a three-month truce if all of its detained members are released and if the government halts any further arrests. He said the government was looking at the proposal.
The news of planned negotiations comes as more violence was reported in the troubled town of Maiduguri, in northern Nigeria.
Authories said two people were killed on Thursday by gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram.
'Level of uncertainty'
Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege, reporting from the capital Abuja, said that the biggest challenge for Nigerian authorities would be establishing who represents and speaks for the hardline group.
"The Nigerian police have gathered intelligence from suspects arrested, but the leaders are still at large and one can imagine that there will be a level of uncertainty on the part of the authorities that they are engaging the right people.
Andrew Stroehlein, communications director of the International Crisis Group in Brussels, told Al Jazeera that while talks were a positive development, there were a range of difficult questions to consider.
"First of all, it is not sure that they are talking to the right people, especially with the factionalism prevalent in Boko Haram. This means that even if they reach an agreement, this does not mean that the agreement will be honoured," he said.