Hours after an attack killed at least 21 young soccer fans watching a televised World Cup match, Nigerian security forces announced they had arrested a senior commander and more than 485 members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram that is terrorizing the country.
He was arrested when police apprehended a convoy of suspected terrorists in the southern state of Abia. “Police refuse to disclose the identity of the militant,” reported Ludovica Iaccino for International Business Times. “Boko Haram mainly targets villages in the north. The discovery of a senior Boko Haram militant in a southern state stoked fears that the insurgents are expanding their range.”
The slain soccer fans – reportedly mostly children and young soccer players – had gathered at an outdoor video screen to watch the World Cup’s Brazil v Mexico match in the tournament’s opening round. A bomb went off, apparently concealed in a pedicab-rickshaw.
Boko Haram – which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language – made headlines worldwide after the mass abduction of nearly 300 Christian school girls last April. The terrorist group, which is officially the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad or “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad,” has paraded the girls in front of video cameras and bragged that they will be sold into slavery.
The group was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 and seeks a “pure” Islamic state ruled by Islamic “shari’a” law and halting westernization – particularly the education of girls – in Nigeria, which is officially half-and-half Christian and Muslim. He died in police custody in 2009.
The group primarily attacks churches, schools, bus stations, public gatherings and other undefended “soft targets” where there will be no armed resistance – resulting in more than 12,000 deaths in Nigeria between 2002 and 2013, according to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in an interview with Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper. At least 90,000 Nigerians have been displaced from their homes due to the group’s violence.
The Nigerian government is advising people to avoid gathering in public spaces to watch the World Cup, fearing that more deadly attacks might occur.
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SOURCE: Christian Headlines