Nigeria re-arrests church bombing 'mastermind': source

AFP, Friday 10 Feb 2012

Nigerian authorities arrest Kabiru Sokoto an alleged member of Islamist group Boko Haram, accused of being behind bombing of a Catholic church outside capital Abuja

People gather around a minibus struck in an apparent explosion as it sits near a highway overpass in Kaduna, Nigeria, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (Photo:AP)

Nigerian authorities on Friday re-arrested the alleged mastermind of a Christmas Day church bombing that killed at least 44 people after he escaped in suspicious circumstances, a security source said.

The escape of Kabiru Sokoto, an alleged member of Islamist group Boko Haram, had led to mounting pressure on the government and security agencies

"He was re-arrested this morning at Mutum Biu in Taraba State by the (secret police)," a security source told AFP, referring to a state in central Nigeria. "He's being flown to Abuja now by the Nigeria air force."

Sokoto is accused of being behind the bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla outside the capital Abuja on 25 December.

He allegedly fled last month while police took him for a search of his house. Police have claimed their convoy was attacked by suspected Boko Haram members.

Suspicions had been raised over Sokoto's escape, amid longstanding allegations of links between Boko Haram members and politicians and a police force riddled with corruption.

Even the circumstances of the suspect's original arrest were shadowy.

He had been arrested at a lodge belonging to the governor for northeastern Borno state in Abuja. All Nigerian states have such lodges in the capital.

Borno state and especially its capital of Maiduguri are Boko Haram's historic base.

Inwa Bwala, the state information commissioner, has suggested Sokoto was smuggled into the lodge by a Borno native who was cleared to spend the night.

Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of attacks that have shaken Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.

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