US offers rewards for capture of African militants

The leader of Boko Haram Image copyright AP
Image caption The highest reward was for Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

The US is offering rewards for the first time for information on Islamist militants in North and West Africa.

The highest reward of up to $7m (£4.6m) is for information leading to the location of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, the state department said.

Smaller rewards are offered for leading figures in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).

A reward of up to $5m was on offer for veteran militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

His Signed in Blood Battalion was held responsible for an attack on a gas plant in south-east Algeria in January in which at least 37 hostages, including three US citizens, were killed.

A $5m reward is also offered for Yahya Abu el Hammam, a senior commander of AQIM, whom the state department said had planned attacks and kidnappings in North and West Africa.

The state department said up to $3m was available for information leading to the location of Malik Abou Abdelkarim of AQIM and Mujao spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha.

It said Oumar Ould Hamaha had taken part in the kidnapping of foreigners for ransom, including taking a Canadian diplomat captive in Niger in 2008.

Boko Haram has carried out a series of deadly attacks across northern Nigeria, leading to the deaths of an estimated 2,000 people since 2009.

There has been growing concern of links between Boko Haram and militant groups in other countries, including AQIM.

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