Several dozen people suspected of having links to Nigeria’s Boko Haram have been arrested in southern Niger since the start of cross-border attacks by the Islamist group a week ago, a local governor said.
“In the region of Zinder, we have a few dozen people whom were arrested for checking. They are suspects,” Kalla Moutari told AFP in an interview late Saturday, adding that they were citizens of Niger.
The suspects were sent to an “anti-terrorist unit” in the capital Niamey, Moutari said.
Boko Haram launched a series of cross-border attacks in Niger’s remote Diffa area on February 6.
The region is across the border from northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram stronghold.
The suspects were arrested at checkpoints on access roads into Zinder, Niger’s second largest city some 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Diffa, the governor said.
He said some 10,000 people had fled the violence in Diffa to Zinder, and that the checkpoints allowed authorities “to intercept those who had infiltrated the displaced people.”