Leader of breakaway Boko Haram faction arrested

2016-04-05 06:21
Ammunition seized by the Nigerian forces from Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

Ammunition seized by the Nigerian forces from Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. (Quentin Leboucher, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Abuja - Nigerian security agents have arrested the leader of breakaway Boko Haram faction Ansaru, the Ministry of Defence said.

If confirmed, he would be the highest-level extremist ever captured in the country's 6-year-old war against Islamic jihadis.

Ansaru leader Khalid al-Barnawi has a $5m reward on his head. The US Department of State named him a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" in 2012.

It is "a breakthrough in the fight against terrorism", Defence Ministry spokesperson Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said in a statement on Sunday. He said security agents arrested al-Barnawi, originally named Usman Umar Abubakar, in the central city of Lokoja on Friday.

His presence in a city 1 000km from the northeastern war front strengthens suspicions that Islamic militants may have infiltrated Fulani Muslim herders who have been creating havoc in Nigeria's Middle Belt in clashes over land and water with Christian farmers. Dozens of people have been killed in recent months.

Ansaru is allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and is known for kidnapping foreigners for ransom.

Al-Barnawi allegedly masterminded the 2011 kidnapping of a British and an Italian construction engineer who both were killed in a failed rescue attempt by British and Nigerian special forces in northern Sokoto city in 2012.

He also is believed behind the 2012 kidnapping of a German construction engineer who died in another botched rescue attempt in the northern city of Kano the same year. Ansaru took responsibility for the kidnapping of a French engineer in northern Katsina state in 2012 who escaped captivity more than a year later.

Ansaru is believed to have broken away from Boko Haram in disagreements over Boko Haram's indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims. Both groups want to create an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, a country of 170 million divided almost equally between Muslims and Christians.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  boko haram  |  nigeria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.