Lagos – The military has raided an intelligence cell of the radical group Boko Haram, detaining a top intelligence operative believed to have spearheaded the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok mid-April, Punch newspaper reported Tuesday.
Businessman Babuji Ya'ari is also suspected of involvement in the assassination in May of a traditional leader, the emir of Gwoza, and in several bomb attacks in Maiduguri, the capital of north-eastern Borno state.
He used his position as the leader of a youth vigilance group as a cover for his terrorist activities, the army said.
Security forces also arrested several suspected female members of the cell.
Boko Haram attacks have claimed thousands of lives this year alone.
The most recent of them included an assault on churches and communities near Chibok on Sunday that, according to Punch, killed 53 people.
Boko Haram also targeted a shopping centre in Abuja last week, killing more than 20 people.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday vowed to step up the fight against the insurgents.
"Renewed attacks on churches and other similar atrocities by Boko Haram are conclusive proof, if any is still needed, that its leaders and members are thoroughly misguided persons who are only using religion as a cover for their reprehensible crimes against their countrymen and women," Jonathan said.