A joint operation launched by the Department of State Services, the National Intelligence Agency, the police and other security agencies has successfully dismantled a terror cell and arrested five Islamic State West Africa Province commanders and 30 fighters.
The PUNCH gathered that the terror suspects were apprehended at their hideouts in different locations in Abuja, Mararaba and other satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory. Our correspondent learnt that the suspects were being held at a DSS facility.
The arrests were made amid heightened tension in the nation’s capital as the popular Jabi Lake Mall shut its doors to shoppers and visitors on Thursday, citing the security situation.
To discourage criminal activities, the FCT Administration demolished shanties on Law School land, saying it was part of security measures.
Also, the United Kingdom issued a fresh security alert warning British nationals against visiting Abuja and 14 other states.
This further sparked anxiety among residents as many stayed away from work while vehicular traffic was unusually light.
In addition, the United States Mission and the British High Commission suspended consular services.
But the counter-intelligence operations which netted the suspected militants continued on Thursday with more arrests. It was said to have the backing of the US security and intelligence agencies.
Our correspondent could, however, not confirm the number of additional suspects that were picked up during the Thursday raid.
It was further learnt that the intelligence agencies had been on the trail of the insurgents before the US and the British High Commission issued security alerts last Sunday, warning their citizens about impending terrorist attacks.
The US Embassy in Abuja had issued an alert for “an elevated risk of terror attacks” in the city, saying that possible targets include government buildings, places of worship and other public places.
In response to this development, the US government authorised the departure of its non-essential employees and their families from Nigeria.
The US State Department in its updated Nigeria travel advisory on Tuesday evening said, “On October 25, 2022, the Department authorised the departure of non-emergency US government employees and family members due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks.’’
The British High Commission in Nigeria also took a similar step and restricted entry to its premises in an updated terrorism alert.