Boko Haram suspects on trial in Chad over twin attacks

Boots of people killed in a suicide bomb attack outside the police headquarters in N'Djamena, on June 15, 2015 (AFP Photo/Brahim Adji)

N'Djamena (AFP) - Ten suspected Boko Haram members went on trial in Chad on Wednesday over their alleged roles in twin attacks that killed 38 people in the capital N'Djamena in June.

It was the first Chadian trial involving the Nigeria-based Islamist group, which has in the past months stepped up attacks and suicide bombings in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

They are accused of criminal conspiracy, killings, wilful destruction with explosives, fraud, illegal possessions of arms and ammunition, as well as using psychotropic substances, city prosecutor general Bruno Mahouli said.

The closed-door hearing is expected to last eight days.

The accused include Nigerian national Mahamat Mustapha, also known as Bana Fanaye, who according to Chadian authorities was the mastermind behind the June 15 suicide attacks that struck a school and a police building in N'Djamena, killing 38 people and injuring over 100.

Shortly after Fanaye's arrest in late June, Chad's top prosecutor Alghassim Kassim said the suspect was the "ringleader of a network smuggling weapons and munitions between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad".

Fanaye was also responsible for procuring weapons and "recruiting and managing Boko Haram members", Kassim added.

The June attacks in the Chadian capital were followed by another suicide blast at a market in July that killed 15 people.

Chad -- which is part of a regional fightback against Boko Haram -- has beefed up security in response to the bloodshed. The 8,700-strong force is not yet up and running.

Meanwhile, two suspected Boko Haram members blew themselves up on Lake Chad while being pursued by the Chadian army, a military source told AFP on Wednesday.

There were no other casualties in Tuesday's incident on the island of Kaiga-Ngouboua on the lake which is ringed by Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

In Nigeria, a Lagos court late last year convicted in secret three suspects on charges linked to Boko Haram and sentenced them to 25 years in jail.