Two other commanders of the sect were arrested on Monday in the northern city of Kano.
The Joint Military Task Force, JTF, in northern Nigeria on Monday September 17 reportedly killed the spokesman of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, Abu Qaqa, in the city of Kano. Thisday newspaper quoted JTF's spokesman in Kano, Lieutenant Ikedichi Iwehia as saying the early morning operation in Hotoro neighbourhood also led to the arrest of two topmost sect commanders wanted by security agencies.
The spokesman stated that the arrested militant suspects had been taken into custody in one of the security facilities in the state, the Nigerian Tribune newspaper reported. According to him, the operation started at 6.00 a.m. at a compound in Hotoro. He said security men who raided the residence were resisted by the insurgents, leading to a fierce gunfight.
Lt Iwehia added that the suspects were linked to several cases of insurgency recorded in the area recently. Prominent among them was the killing in Kano State of a security officer attached to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and his entire family on Sunday September 16. Lt Iwehia did not however disclose the identity of the arrested leaders, neither did Boko Haram confirm the alleged death of their spokesman.
A source close to the military told the BBC that the JTF stopped a car suspected to be carrying some senior Boko Haram commanders in Kano, but one of them tried to escape and was shot. He later died in hospital. The source said some of the people in the car informed the soldiers that the person shot was Abu Qaqa, the man who signs emails sent to the media on behalf of Boko Haram. Analysts note that Abu Qaqa is an alias, so establishing his true identity will not be easy. The military has previously claimed to have arrested Abu Qaqa, but this was denied by Boko Haram, who said the wrong man had been detained.
Thisday sources gave a different version, saying the vehicle was carrying Abu Qaqa, a sect commander, Qaqa's wife and children. The Boko Haram spokesman's wife and children remain in military custody. Security sources said the non-disclosure of the names of the alleged Boko Haram members is part of a new offensive by JTF to hide the identities of sect members that are killed or arrested.
Boko Haram has staged numerous attacks across northern and central Nigeria, attacking churches and schools, and killing some 1,400 people. Its members say they are against Western education.