(Soldiers search a car for suspected explosives along a road in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Human rights abuses committed by Nigeria’s security forces in their fight against Islamist sect Boko Haram are fuelling the very insurgency they are meant to quell, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Boko Haram says it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and its fighters have killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks targeting security forces, politicians and civilians since launching an uprising in 2009. The sect has become the No. 1 security threat to Africa’s top energy producer.

The Amnesty report said Nigeria’s security forces acted outside the rule of law and their brutal tactics could build support for Boko Haram outside its extremist core.

A Nigerian military spokesman contacted by Reuters rejected the report as “biased and mischievous”.