ABUJA, June 19 (Reuters) - Militant Islamists are targeting Nigeria’s capital of Abuja and plan to load bombs on petrol lorries headed into the city, the government said.
Militant group Boko Haram, which drew worldwide attention in April when it kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria, has increasingly attacked regions beyond its traditional northern stronghold in recent months.
Analysts say Boko Haram, which aims to carve out a hardline Islamic state in the Muslim north, has been focusing more on high-profile targets, emboldened by media attention from the kidnapping.
Two bomb blasts in Abuja in the weeks running up to the World Economic Forum held in the capital in May killed more than 90 people and prompted some delegates to pull out of the conference.
“The Nigerian security services have received intelligence...to the effect that insurgents intend seizing petrol tankers and plant(ing) improvised explosive devices in the tankers and drive them to crowded places in Abuja,” Mike Omeri, a senior Ministry of Information official said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Separately, a military spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday that security forces had discovered a senior Boko Haram member among a convoy of nearly 500 travellers arrested this week in the southern state of Abia.
The presence of a high-ranking militant in the south would stoke fears insurgents are targeting the mainly Christian south. It would also raise concern they could eventually attempt attacks in the oil-rich Niger delta. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh, writing by David Dolan,; additional reporting by Isaac Abrak; editing by Ralph Boulton)