Nigeria says Boko Haram's plans to target UK and US embassies thwarted

Nigeria's state security agency says it has busted a ring of Boko Haram militants who planned to attack the embassies in capital Abuja.

Photo by: AP (Archive)
Photo by: AP (Archive)

Boko Haram's campaign continues since 2009, having claimed more than 20,000 lives in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation.

Updated Apr 13, 2017

Nigeria's state security agency said on Wednesday it had thwarted plans by Boko Haram militants linked to Daesh to attack the British and United States embassies in the capital Abuja, reports said. 

The Department of State Services (DSS) said a 20-year-old suspected Boko Haram member, arrested on March 22 in northeastern Yobe state, had confessed details of the plot.

Authorities arrested five more suspected militants in Benue state, in the country's middle belt, and in Abuja between March 25 and 26, the security agency said.

"The group had perfected plans to attack the UK and American embassies and other western interests in Abuja," the DSS said.

The agency described the suspects as "ISIS [Daesh]-linked Boko Haram members" but gave no further details of how the militants planned to attack the embassies.

A US Embassy spokesperson declined to comment on the arrests. He said the US mission "appreciates the work of DSS and Nigerian security forces in fighting terrorism and keeping citizens and residents safe."

We are in regular contact with the Nigerian security authorities concerning potential threats to UK interests in Nigeria — Spokeswoman for the British High Commission

Links with Daesh

Boko Haram's campaign has continued since 2009, having claimed more than 20,000 lives in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation.

The armed group split last year, with one faction led by Abubakar Shekau operating from the Sambisa Forest - a vast woodland area in the northeast - and the other, allied to Daesh and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.

Boko Haram has largely focused its attacks on the northeast and neighbouring Cameroon and Niger. Abuja has not been bombed since 2015. The most high profile attacks on the capital were in 2011 when militants bombed the UN headquarters, killing 23 people, as well as police headquarters.

Separately, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday said the use of children as suicide bombers by Boko Haram had surged in 2017. It said 27 children had been used in suicide attacks since the start of the year.