News / Africa

Nigeria Recaptures Top Christmas Bombing Suspect

Undated handout of Kabiru Sokoto Sokoto, a suspect in a Christmas Day bomb attack St. Theresa Catholic Church, Nigeria
Undated handout of Kabiru Sokoto Sokoto, a suspect in a Christmas Day bomb attack St. Theresa Catholic Church, Nigeria

Nigerian authorities have recaptured the top suspect in a Christmas day bombing that killed at least 37 people outside the capital, Abuja.

Government officials say the State Security Service re-arrested Kabiru Sokoto on Friday in eastern Taraba state near the Cameroon border.  Authorities say he has been flown to Abuja.

Attacks Claimed by Boko Haram

  • July 2009 - Attacks and clashes in Bauchi and Maiduguri leave 800 people dead.
  • December 2010 - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86 people.
  • June 16, 2011 - Car bomb kills two outside police headquarters in Abuja.
  • June 26, 2011 - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25 people.
  • August 25, 2011 - Attacks on a police station in Gombi and two banks leave 12 people dead.
  • August 26, 2011 - Suicide bomber kills 23 people at the U.N. building in Abuja.
  • November 4, 2011 - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65 people.
  • December 25, 2011 - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39 people.
  • January 10, 2011 - Gunmen open fire on a bar in Yobe state, killing eight people.

Sokoto is believed to belong to the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the December 25 attack on St. Theresa Catholic Church.

Sokoto escaped from police custody in Abuja on January 17, just one day after he was first arrested.  At the time, police said Sokoto was freed by "suspected gang members" as he was being transferred to another police station.

Later, President Goodluck Jonathan pressured the police chief and his top deputies to retire early.

The bombing of the church was one of a series of coordinated attacks on Christmas that killed at least 39 people.

Boko Haram is blamed for hundreds of deaths in bombings and shootings over the past 18 months, mostly in northern Nigeria.  Much about the group remains unknown, but it is believed to want wider implementation of sharia, or Islamic law. 

President Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in 15 areas as part of his response to the unrest. The president also has deployed extra troops to the north, but attacks have continued.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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