Soldiers fighting to halt an insurgency by Islamic militants are banning the use of Thuraya satellite telephones by civilians in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state, throttling communications already made difficult by cut cell phone service.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa says extremists used Thurayas to plan and coordinate attacks that killed 16 high school students in recent days.

Musa said in a statement Wednesday that Thurayas also were used in the shooting deaths of Muslim religious leaders.

He blamed the killings on the Boko Haram sect whose name means "Western education is sacrilege."

Nigeria a month ago declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states to dislodge the extremists who have killed more than 1,600 civilians since 2010 in a bid to enshrine strict Islamic laws in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.