Fresh negotiations have started with Boko Haram to release more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, a Nigerian human rights activist told Reuters.

Fred Eno said others had begun independent negotiations with the Islamist group but did not reveal who the ‘others’ were. The Nigerian government says it has no knowledge of the talks.

World Watch Monitor reported last year on negotiations between Boko Haram and an Australian cleric Stephen Davis.

Meanwhile an atrocity was avoided in Nigeria’s ‘Middle Belt’ city of Jos when a security guard found a bomb in a plastic bag at an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) church. Sources told World Watch Monitor that the guard removed the bag and threw it away from the church where it exploded without injuring anyone. Security forces later found and disarmed a second bomb in the church. The Sunday before, twin bombs in Jos killed at least 44 and injured 47.

Boko Haram, who were blamed for the 12th July failed attack, were also blamed for attacks in neighbouring Niger last week killing at least six.

Boko Haram have also been blamed for a suicide bombing in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena on Saturday that killed 15. The bomber – a man dressed in a woman’s burqa – blew himself up in the main market.

A joint five-nations’ force – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin has had some successes in reclaiming Boko Haram-held territory in Nigeria’s north-east, and also in Chad.