The Nigerian army says it has arrested the leader of an al-Qaeda linked militant group, Ansaru, known for kidnapping and murdering Westerners. Khalid al-Barnawi was captured in Lokoja, capital of the central state of Kogi on Friday, military spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said on Sunday. “He is among those on top of the list of our wanted terrorists,” he added.
Al-Barnawi has been one of the three Nigerians listed by the US in 2012 as “specially designated global terrorists.” The US had placed a $5 million bounty on his head. A-Barnawi has “ties to Boko Haram” and “close links to al-Qaeda,” according to the US State Department. A Nigerian army officer said his arrest was “a huge success and will have a profound effect on counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria and beyond.”
Ansaru is a splinter group of Boko Haram which claimed responsibility for the December 26, 2012 attack on a facility in Abuja, where the army held captured militants. They killed two policemen and freed 40 detainees. The group also said it was responsible for another attack in 2013 on a convoy of Mali-bound Nigerian troops in Kogi state.
The terrorists killed two soldiers and seriously wounded five others. Boko Haram has so far claimed the lives of over 17,000 people since the start of its insurgency in Nigeria in 2009. The violence has also forced over 2.6 million others to flee their homes since then. The terror group has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri group.