Bloomberg News

Nigerian Security Forces Arrest Islamist Fighters’ Spokesman

February 02, 2012

(Updates with comment by security official in third paragraph.)

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s security police said they captured the alleged spokesman of the Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings and attacks that have killed hundreds of people in Africa’s top oil producer.

“We’ve arrested Abu Qaqa, the so-called spokesman of the Boko Haram sect and one of its leaders,” Ahmed Abdullahi, director of the State Security Service, or SSS, in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, said today by phone.

Agents from the SSS, a plain clothes unit charged with state security, had tracked Qaqa for some time before apprehending him today in the northern city of Kaduna, said Abdullahi.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claimed responsibility for blasts that struck eight government buildings on Jan. 20 in Kano, the biggest city in northern Nigeria, killing at least 250 people, according to rights group Civil Rights Congress. A spokesman for the group, who gave his name as Abu Qaqa, told reporters by phone on Jan. 21 it carried out the attack to avenge the persecution of its members in the city.

Nigeria is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. More than 14,000 people died in ethnic and religious clashes in the West African nation between 1999 and 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Boko Haram wants to impose sharia rule in Nigeria’s north.

--With assistance from Dulue Mbachu in Abuja. Editors: Dulue Mbachu, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: Gbenga Akingbule in Maiduguri at gakingbule@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net


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