More than 160 Boko Haram sympathisers held in Niger: police

Policemen patrol the streets of the northeastern Nigerian city of Gombe on February 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Aminu Abubakar)

Niamey (AFP) - More than 160 people suspected of having links to Boko Haram have been arrested in Niger's border area with Nigeria which was attacked this month by the Islamist group, police in Niger said Monday.

"We would like to warmly thank the residents of the Diffa region whose assistance has allowed us to arrest more than 160 suspects," national police spokesman Adily Toro said on local television.

The suspects were being questioned by anti-terror officers, Toro said. They faced charges of terrorism and conspiracy in connection with a terrorist group.

Boko Haram launched a series of cross-border attacks in Niger's remote Diffa area on February 6.

The region is across the border from northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram's stronghold.

The wave of arrests came a day after a local governor said several dozen suspects were arrested at checkpoints on access roads into Zinder, Niger's second largest city some 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Diffa.

He said some 10,000 people had fled into Zinder to escape the recent violence in Diffa.