A joint operation launched by the Department of State Services, the National Intelligence Agency, the police and other security agencies has successfully dismantled a terror cell and arrested five Islamic State West Africa Province commanders and 30 fighters.
Akelicious gathered that the terror suspects were apprehended at their hideouts in different locations in Abuja, Mararaba and other satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory. Our correspondent learnt that the suspects were being held at a DSS facility.
The arrests were made amid heightened tension in the nation’s capital as the popular Jabi Lake Mall shut its doors to shoppers and visitors on Thursday, citing the security situation.
To discourage criminal activities, the FCT Administration demolished shanties on Law School land, saying it was part of security measures.
Also, the United Kingdom issued a fresh security alert warning British nationals against visiting Abuja and 14 other states.
This further sparked anxiety among residents as many stayed away from work while vehicular traffic was unusually light.
In addition, the United States Mission and the British High Commission suspended consular services.
But the counter-intelligence operations which netted the suspected militants continued on Thursday with more arrests. It was said to have the backing of the US security and intelligence agencies.
Our correspondent could, however, not confirm the number of additional suspects that were picked up during the Thursday raid.
It was further learnt that the intelligence agencies had been on the trail of the insurgents before the US and the British High Commission issued security alerts last Sunday, warning their citizens about impending terrorist attacks.
The US Embassy in Abuja had issued an alert for “an elevated risk of terror attacks” in the city, saying that possible targets include government buildings, places of worship and other public places.
The source disclosed that the detained fighters were providing useful information which had led to the arrest of some of their members masquerading as artisans, cart pushers and security guards in the city.
A senior officer stated, ‘’A massive counter-intelligence operation is going on to disrupt, neutralise and destroy the ISWAP terrorists in the FCT. Many commanders and their foot soldiers have been arrested and they are currently helping us in our investigations. About five commanders and 30 fighters have been apprehended but we expect to capture more suspects as we widen our dragnet.’’
The DSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya said he had not been briefed on the arrest of the terrorists when one of our correspondents contacted him.
The Director, Defence Information, Major Jimmy Akpor did not pick up calls to his line and has yet to respond to a text message sent to him on the matter.
Meanwhile, in another update on Wednesday, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office again restated its warning of an increased threat of terrorist attack in Abuja.
Despite the assurances of the Federal Government that the security agencies had a handle on the security situation, the British Government cautioned its nationals against travel to the FCT and 14 other states in the country.
The travel advice was made available to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, underscoring the gravity of the state of affairs.