, KANO, Nov 23 – Police in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri rocked by hit-and-run killings linked to members of an Islamist sect have arrested over 170 suspects in six weeks, a spokesman said Monday.
"So far we have made over 170 arrests in connection with recent killings in the city and investigations are ongoing to determine the culpability or otherwise of the suspects," Borno state police spokeman Lawan Abdullahi said.
Thirteen arrests were made in under a week following last Friday\’s mosque gun attack that left three people dead, and two separate killings of a policeman and that of a brother of a local traditional chief in the same week.
Early this month Nigerian security forces said they were holding 152 suspected members of Boko Haram.
Recent incidents blamed on the sect have included attacks on police stations, a prison raid and shootings of police officers by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
Much of the violence has occurred in Borno state, whose capital Maiduguri was the centre of last year\’s uprising. Troops have been deployed in the area in response.
The sect claims to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Africa\’s most populous nation, whose 150 million people are divided roughly in half between Christians and Muslims.
The country\’s north is mainly Muslim, while the south is predominantly Christian.
Boko Haram means "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa dialect, though the sect has been known by various names, including the Nigerian Taliban.