Nigeria’s army said it had arrested several security officials on suspicion of having connections with Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds in an insurgency this year.
The government has regularly said it believes politicians and security agents are involved in the revolt, which poses the biggest security threat in Africa’s leading oil exporter.
The military said the men were detained based on information given by an immigration officer, who was arrested last month and, the army added, later confessed to being a member of Boko Haram – a movement trying to carve out an Islamic state in the north, Reuters reports.
“His arrest led to the further arrest of some other security personnel that have been participating in various terrorist attacks in both Borno and Yobe states,” said the army’s spokesman in northeast Borno state Sagir Musa.
Musa said the immigration officer had admitted to killing civil servants, security agents and politicians in Borno, Boko Haram’s home state and the focus of most of the sect’s violence.
The arrested man also said he had been trained with 15 other Boko Haram members in neighbouring Niger, added Musa.
Security experts believe there are loose ties between Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb which operates in Niger.
Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths since its insurgency intensified in 2010. The United States has designated three of Boko Haram’s senior members as terrorists.
But a recent military crackdown appears to have weakened the sect and there has not been a repeat of the large-scale, coordinated attacks seen earlier this year.
There was an explosion near an Islamic school in the town of Zaria in the northern state of Kaduna on Sunday, the national emergency agency said.
Two of the people responsible were killed by the military and several injured people had been taken to hospital, it added.