Nigeria 'arrests senior Boko Haram official'
Suleiman Mohammed, described as group's head of operations, held in Kano with wife and children, military officials say.
Last Modified: 12 May 2012 14:54
Boko Haram is blamed for a spate of violence that has left 1,000 people dead since 2009 [Reuters]

Nigerian soldiers have arrested a suspected leading Boko Haram fighter in a raid in the northern state of Kano, a military spokesman and security sources said.

Suleiman Mohammed was arrested on Friday along with his wife and five children, a security source involved in the raid in the Farawa neighbourhood of Kano, the largest city in the north, said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Friday's arrest came hours after blasts and gunfire rocked the restive city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, where the group, which calls for the adoption of Sharia law, is based.

"We had an operation this morning ... at a Boko Haram hideout [in Kano]. We made some arrests but details will be given later," Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi, a military spokesman for Kano, told the AFP news agency.

Mohammed has been described as Boko Haram's head of operations in Kano under the group's suspected leader, Abubakar Shekau.

According to the security source, Mohammed claimed to be from Oyo state in southwestern Nigeria, although Boko Haram members tend to come from the country's mainly Muslim north.

"We recovered three pistols, a rifle, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 10 IEDs [improvised explosive devices]," the source said, adding that the house was destroyed after the raid.

Motorcycle bomb

Police also reported that a bomb was thrown on Friday by a man on a motorcycle, exploding without causing injuries in the eastern state of Taraba, where a suicide attack targeting a senior police officer's convoy killed 11 people on April 30.

Residents said the explosion occurred near a church, a bank and a brothel in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba. It exploded in an open area and the target was unclear, they said.

The state holds local elections on Saturday, and authorities have banned motorcycles indefinitely as a result of the blast, Ibiang Mbaseki, a police spokesman, said.

Boko Haram opposes Western-style education and wants Nigeria, which is roughly divided between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south, to adopt Sharia law throughout the country. 

The state of Kano has witnessed the worst attacks by Boko Haram, mainly bombings and shootings. At least 185 were killed in January in Kano while an estimated 1,000 has been killed in the group's campaign since mid-2009.

A security official told AFP attacks in Maiduguri happened near a church in an area where a mosque owned by Boko Haram was razed during a 2009 crackdown on the group.

The AFP reported seeing lorries laden with soldiers deployed to the area on Friday.

A spokesman for a military task force in Maiduguri said a minor explosion occurred in the area around 2am.

"On reaching the area, two unexploded bombs were recovered and they were detonated by the task force. No casualty recorded," Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa said in a statement.

Musa said that troops later encountered suspected Boko Haram members in another part of the city. He did not give further details but said one "high-profile terrorist" was killed and two people were arrested.

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