Maiduguri, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian authorities arrested 11 suspected members of Islamist militant group Boko Haram overnight and seized automatic weapons, ammunition and several homemade bombs, the military said on Wednesday.
Boko Haram is waging a low-level insurgency in the largely Muslim north of Nigeria, aiming to revive an ancient Islamic state caliphate in the modern nation of 160-million people, split roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians.
The militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people since launching an uprising in 2009.
The men were arrested in the Waka-Biu region of Borno state, spokesperson for Borno’s military and police Joint Task Force (JTF), Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, said.
They recovered a submachinegun, seven AK-47s, 1 568 rounds of ammunition, 12 empty shells and 19 homemade bombs, he said.
Boko Haram, whose fighters usually target members of the security forces, government offices and churches, started attacking mobile phone installations last week, saying phone companies were helping authorities to track them.
A military crackdown on the group in the north appears to have weakened their capabilities, and they have not managed a deadly large-scale strike for several months, although they are still active across the north.
Nigeria’s government says it is negotiating with some Boko Haram members on a peaceful way out of the conflict. The sect’s spokesman has denied it is in talks with authorities but has never ruled them out in principle.