Boko Haram mastermind of deadly Nigeria blasts arrested: police

Two blasts simultaneously ripped through the suburbs of Kuje and Nyanya outlying Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on October 2, 2015, leaving 18 people dead and 41 injured (AFP Photo/PHILIP OJISUA)

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - A top Boko Haram leader accused of organising deadly twin blasts in the Nigerian capital Abuja that killed 18 people has been arrested, police said Friday.

A police statement said Umar Abdulmalik and seven other jihadists were arrested, without giving details.

Forty-one people were also injured in the October 2, 2015 blasts which simultaneously ripped through the suburbs of Kuje and Nyanya outlying the federal capital.

The explosions happened near a police station in Kuje and at a bus stop in Nyanya.

Kuje, near Abuja’s airport, is 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the city centre and seat of government. Its prison at the time held dozens of Boko Haram prisoners captured by troops.

The same bus station in Nyanya, to the east, was hit twice in 2014. The first attack, on 14 April 2014, left at least 75 dead and was claimed by the Islamists; the second, on 1 May, left at least 16 dead.

In the latest attack, the jihadists ambushed a military convoy in the northeastern state of Borno killing at least two soldiers, military sources told AFP Friday.

Thursday's attack saw them attacking with guns and rocket-propelled grenades on a convoy of troops near Bongori village in Damboa district, two military officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The troops from the state capital Maiduguri, the cradle of the Boko Haram movement, were heading to the town of Damboa, about 90 kilometres away.

Three soldiers were injured and an armoured vehicle was damaged, a military officer said. The second officer confirmed the information.

Boko Haram has intensified attacks on military targets in Borno and neighbouring Yobe state, killing dozens.

Last week, two Nigerian soldiers were killed in a roadside mine explosion outside the town of Gamboru near the border with Cameroon blamed on the jihadists troops.

More than 27,000 people have died since the start of the insurgency in the remote northeast in 2009 and 1.8 million have been made homeless.