Bloomberg News

Nigeria Police Said to Arrest 160 Chadians Over Kano Attacks

January 26, 2012

(Updates with analyst comment in third paragraph.)

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian police arrested 160 people from neighboring Chad on suspicion of involvement in bombings and gun attacks last week that killed as many as 256 people in Kano, a police official in the northern city said.

Nigeria’s government has contacted the Chadian authorities to investigate whether the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, has training facilities in Chad, said the police official, who declined to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak to the media.

“The most likely scenario in this case is that the Nigerian police received intelligence suggesting the participation of Chadians in the Kano operation and have gone on to round up as many Chadians as they can find,” Sebastian Boe, a London-based analyst for IHS Global Insight said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “While he participation of a number of Chadians is certainly plausible, I very much doubt that Boko Haram recruited 160 of them for the operation.”

Boko Haram, which draws its inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, is responsible for a surge in violence in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer. The group, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack on the United Nations building in the capital, Abuja, on Aug. 26 that killed 24 people. Police blame it for a Christmas Day bombing of a church near Abuja that killed 43 people.

Police Inspector Fired

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday fired police inspector-general Hafiz Ringim and his six deputies, nine days after an alleged Boko Haram leader escaped from police custody. Kabiru Umar, who is suspected of masterminding the Christmas Day bombing, escaped from police custody on Jan. 16, two days after his arrest, police said.

The series of coordinated bomb and gun attacks in Kano on Jan. 20 killed at least 256 people, according to Nigeria’s Civil Rights Congress. Police in the city put the official death toll at 184.

Chad told Nigerian authorities that President Idriss Deby had asked his security forces to investigate and dismantle any training camps that are found, the police official in Kano said.

Police found more than 300 improvised explosive devices since Jan. 21 in Kano, the city’s police commissioner, Ibrahim Idris, said on Jan. 23.

Frequent bank robberies in northern Nigeria in the past year have given Boko Haram “a substantial amount of cash to throw around” to hire sub-contractors for operations such as the attack in Kano, Boe said.

Bank Robberies

Boko Haram conducted at least 30 attacks on banks last year, the Abuja-based central bank said in December.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy is recovering from a week-long general strike that cost an estimated 207.4 billion naira ($1.3 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said Jan. 18. The action ended on Jan. 16 after Jonathan backtracked on a decision to fully lift a fuel subsidy and agreed to limit gasoline-price increases to 97 naira a liter (0.26 gallon). Prices initially more than doubled from 65 naira a liter.

The naira fell for the first day in three, declining less than 0.1 percent to 160.05 per dollar on the interbank market as of 10:49 a.m. in Lagos, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index gained for a second day, rising 0.4 percent to 20,699.58 in Lagos, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Brent oil for March settlement was up $1.01 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $110.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange at 10:23 a.m. in London.

--With assistance from Dulue Mbachu and Chris Kay in Abuja. Editors: Karl Maier, Antony Sguazzin

To contact the reporters on this story: Mustapha Muhammad in Johannesburg at mmuhammad5@bloomberg.net; Maram Mazen in Abuja at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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