- Boko Haram - Christmas - Islamism - Islamist militants - Nigeria - police - terrorism
Main suspect in Christmas bombings escapes police custody
A top police officer was suspended Tuesday after the main suspect in a series of deadly Christmas Day bombings at Nigerian churches escaped police custody. The suspect is thought to be a member of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
AFP - Nigerian authorities on Tuesday suspended a top police officer for alleged negligence in the escape of a suspected member of the Islamist Boko Haram sect arrested over a deadly Christmas bomb attack.
The principal suspect, Kabiru Sokoto, who was arrested on Saturday, was handed over to a police commissioner for further investigation. He was then ordered to be taken to Abaji, near Abuja, for further investigation, police said in a statement.
"In the course of undertaking this important procedure, the policemen on escorts with the suspect were attacked by the suspected sect gang members and in the process the suspect was freed," it said.
"The police view this development as a serious negligence on the part of the commissioner of police and have since queried and suspended him from duty," it added.
The identity of the senior police officer was not disclosed.
He and members of his team will be prosecuted if a criminal case is established against them, it also said.
At least 44 people, mostly worshippers, were killed during the attack on Saint Theresa's Roman Catholic Church in Madalla, outside Abuja, on Christmas Day.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The sect has been blamed for scores of attacks in Nigeria, including an August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that killed at least 25, but the Christmas bombs at churches sparked fears of reprisals from Christians.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
Christian leaders have warned that they will have to defend themselves if authorities do not address the spiralling violence.