Monday, January 14, 2013

Nigeria claims arrest of key Boko Haram figure

PHOTO | AFP File photo shows a screen grab made on October 21, 2010 in an undisclosed location from a video allegedly showing members of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

PHOTO | AFP File photo shows a screen grab made on October 21, 2010 in an undisclosed location from a video allegedly showing members of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. 

By AFP

KANO, Nigeria

Nigeria's military on Sunday claimed to have arrested a key member of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram after a reward of some $160,000 had recently been offered for his capture.

A military task force in the country's violence-torn northeast said it had arrested Mohammed Zangina earlier Sunday in an upscale neighbourhood of Maiduguri, the city at the heart of Boko Haram's insurgency.

Nigeria's military however often exaggerates its claims and under-reports death tolls regarding Boko Haram, which has carried out scores of bombings and shootings in the country's north and centre.

"He was in Maiduguri to plan several deadly attacks being planned against civilians and security personnel any moment from today," the military statement said of the suspect.

Listing various Nigerian cities, it said he was "coordinator of most of the suicide attacks and bombings in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Potiskum."

The statement did not say if any of the reward money had been paid out. Nigeria's military offered rewards for a list of suspects in November.

Military officials have claimed a number of arrests of so-called high-profile Boko Haram members in recent months, though it remains unclear whether this has had an impact on the group's activities.

Killings have continued to occur, though this Christmas season was notably less violent than in 2011, when scores of attacks led President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in parts of the country.

Violence linked to Boko Haram's insurgency has left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

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