DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal said on Monday it had arrested five people suspected of links to Nigerian militant group Boko Haram — a development that could mark a significant expansion of the movement’s operations.
The five were arrested last month in the suburbs of Senegal’s capital Dakar and the central town of Kaolak, more than 2,500 km (1,500 miles) from the Islamist militants’ heartland in northeast Nigeria, a senior justice ministry official said.
“We believe those arrested have ties with Boko Haram,” the official told Reuters.
A judge charged them on Friday with alleged relations with a terrorism organisation, financing of terrorism and money laundering, the official added.
Boko Haram has sworn allegiance to Islamic State and killed thousands in Nigeria and its neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger in its bid to carve out an Islamist state.
Senegal, a majority-Muslim country, has traditionally been a bulwark of stability in the region.
A Muslim preacher was arrested last week in the southern town of Kolda on charges relating to statements he had made during sermons.
French troops intervened in Senegal’s neighbour Mali in January 2013 to drive out Islamist militants who had taken over much of the north of the country during a separatist uprising.
Reporting by Diadie Ba; Editing by Makini Brice and Andrew Heavens