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Military busts abducted girls terror cell Nigerian businessman arrested

LAGOS, Nigeria, July 1, (AP): Nigeria’s military has bust a terrorist intelligence cell and arrested a businessman who “actively participated” in the April abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls, a statement said Monday. It was unclear if his arrest might help in rescuing at least 219 girls who remain captive.

Boko Haram Islamic extremists are threatening to sell the girls into marriage and slavery if Nigeria’s government does not exchange them for detained insurgents.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Chris Olukolade said in a statement that businessman Babuji Ya’ari belonged to a vigilante group fighting Boko Haram and used that membership as cover “while remaining an active terrorist.” He said information yielded by Ya’ari’s detention has led to the arrests of two women: Haj Kaka, who he said was a spy who also procured arms for the extremists, and Hafsat Bako, described as a paymaster.

Bako told soldiers that operatives are paid a minimum of 10,000 naira (about $60) depending on the task, the statement said.

Olukolade’s statement accused Ya’ari of “spearheading” last month’s assassination of the emir of Gwoza, the head of a royal family in northeast Borno state, and of coordinating attacks that have killed hundreds in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram. “Babuji has been coordinating several deadly attacks in Maiduguri since 2011, including the daring attacks on customs and military locations as well as the planting of IEDs (explosive devices) in several locations,” the statement said. In the past week, Boko Haram has been blamed for a massive explosion at the biggest mall in Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, that killed at least 24 people.

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