…the arrests were made amid heightened tension in the FCT as the popular Jabi Lake Mall shut down on Thursday
Following a joint operation launched by the Department of State Services, DSS, the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the police and other security agencies, a terror cell has been dismantled and five Islamic State West Africa Province commanders and 30 fighters have been rounded up.
The terror suspects were said to have been apprehended at their hideouts in different locations in Abuja, Mararaba and other satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory.
The DAILY VENDOR learnt that the suspects were being held at a secret DSS facility.
The arrests were made amid heightened tension in the nation’s capital as the popular Jabi Lake Mall shut down on Thursday, citing the security situation.
The FCT Administration has also demolished shanties on Law School land, saying it was part of security measures.
The United Kingdom also 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.
The number of additional suspects that were picked up during the Thursday raid could however not be confirmed.
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.
In response to this development, the US government authorised the departure of its non-essential employees and their families from Nigeria.
The US State Department in its updated Nigeria travel advisory on Tuesday eveningsaid, “On October 25, 2022, the Department authorised the departure of non-emergency US government employees and family members due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks.’’
The British High Commission in Nigeria also took a similar step and restricted entry to its premises in an updated terrorism alert.
On Monday, security operatives arrested two terror suspects at Trademore Estate in Lugbe area of Abuja.
ISWAP fighters relocate
Security sources explained that the ISWAP members relocated to the FCT following the heavy bombardment of their enclaves and camps in the North-West by the Nigerian Air Force.
Giving more insight into the ongoing counter-intelligence operations, a security source revealed that the terror suspects were planning a big attack in Abuja before they were nabbed.
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.