Nigeria arrests Boko Haram 'butcher' in restive northeast

A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and obtained by AFP shows the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (C) (AFP Photo/) (Boko Haram/AFP/File)

Lagos (AFP) - Nigerian police on Tuesday said they had arrested a senior Boko Haram Islamist commander known as "Chief Butcher" during a raid on an insurgent camp in the restive northeast.

Mohammed Zakari, 30, was arrested on Saturday "following the massive onslaught by security forces on the activities of the insurgent group", at Balmo Forest in Bauchi state, a statement said.

Zakari was implicated in "the recent slaughter of seven people, including women and children," it added.

According to police, Balmo Forest is one of several bases scattered across the bushlands of the northeast used by the extremist group blamed for killing more than 10,000 people during a five-year insurgency.

Bauchi has been attacked repeatedly through the conflict.

Zakari was not widely known as a prominent Islamist leader, but the group's command structure is seen as fractured, including autonomous cells operating across the north headed by individuals who may not report to the group's recognised leaders.

Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in the north, is nominally headed by Abubakar Shekau, declared a global terrorist by the United States and sanctioned by the UN Security Council.