ABUJA, Nigeria, Jun – Nigeria’s secret police says it has arrested two suspected commanders of a Boko Haram splinter group for allegedly plotting to carry out violent attacks in the country.
The Department of State Services (DSS) said in a statement on Thursday that two “commanders” of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) were arrested outside the capital Abuja on May 5.
A third suspect was detained in the northeastern state of Bauchi on April 28.
“The suspects were discovered to have concluded plans to not only perpetuate the ideals of the movement in the area, but to, in collaboration with Boko Haram, carry out heinous violent attacks on innocent persons,” the statement read,
Four other suspected Boko Haram members, including two specialist bomb-makers, were also arrested, it added
The DSS has made previous announcements the arrests of suspected ISWA and Boko Haram members. But it rarely announces whether those arrested have been charged or released.
The latest came after British tabloid newspaper The Sun claimed IS leaders were sneaking “battle-hardened extremists” from Syria into Nigeria, prompting improved security at airports and borders.
Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed at least 20,000 since 2009 and made more than two million others homeless.
The jihadist group split into two factions in mid-2016: one is led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, the other — recognised by IS — by Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
Barnawi opposed Shekau’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians, particularly using suicide bombers, and has vowed to hit only “hard” targets such as the military and the police.