Conflict & Justice

120 Boko Haram Islamists arrested in Nigeria


Female student stands in a burnt classroom at Maiduguri Experimental School, a private nursery, primary and secondary school burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria on May 12, 2012.



About 120 Boko Haram Islamists were arrested in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri on Monday as they were organizing the burial of a commander killed in a battle with government troops.

An army spokesman said the military also recaptured five areas from the militant group, but there has been no independent confirmation of what was said.

Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade the 120 militants who were arrested were now being interrogated. They now bring the number of Islamists arrested since last week to more than 200.

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Around 2,000 soldiers were deployed to the Maiduguri region last week in the biggest campaign against Boko Haram to date, with an extra 1,000 troops being sent to Adamawa state.

Olukolade said in a statement on Monday that militants attempting to flee to neighboring Chad and Niger are being "contained."

A military statement also attempted to distance itself from pictures being passed around that are allegedly of residents fleeing the war zone.

"The Special Forces have now secured the environs of New Marte, Hausari, Krenoa, Wulgo and Chikun Ngulalo after destroying all the terrorists camps sited in the vicinity of these localities," the statement said. "The troops are already interacting with locals and citizens assuring them of their safety and freedom from the activities of insurgents."

Those who reportedly fled border villages in Borno state were said to have headed to Niger.

"Most of the residents of border villages of Borno have fled to Niger. About 2,000 people from Abadan, Malam Fatori and other villages are now refugees in Difa, Niger Republic," a top security officer said.