Nigeria, Kano 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)
KANO, Nigeria - Nigerian authorities said on Thursday they had
arrested three Lebanese in northern Nigeria on suspicion of being members of
Hezbollah and that a raid on one of their residences had revealed a stash of
The three suspects were arrested between May 16 and May 28
in the north's biggest city Kano, the city's military spokesman Captain Ikedichi
Iweha said in a statement. All had admitted to being members of Hezbollah under
A raid on the residence of one of the Lebanese had uncovered
11 60 mm anti-tank weapons, four anti-tank landmines, two rounds of ammunition
for a 122 mm artillery gun, 21 rocket-propelled grenades, seventeen AK-47s with
more than 11,000 bullets and some dynamite, he said.
"The arms and
ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interest in
Nigeria," Iweha said, but did not elaborate.
Separately, five fighters
from Chad and two from Niger were arrested among insurgents fleeing a
two-week-old offensive against Islamist sect Boko Haram in the northeast, as
they tried to cross the border into Chad, Nigeria's defence spokesman Brigadier
General Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
Authorities believe there
has been a growing involvement of al-Qaeda-linked foreign jihadists in Nigeria's
The secret service detained the first suspect, Mustapha
Fawaz, on May 16 at his supermarket in Kano. His interrogation led to other
suspects, including Abdullah Tahini, who was later arrested at Kano airport with
$60,000 in undeclared cash.
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The third, Talal Roda, a
Nigerian and Lebanese citizen, was arrested on Sunday at the house where the
weapons were found two days later.
"The search team uncovered an
underground bunker in the master bedroom where a large quantity of assorted
weapons of different types and caliber were recovered," Iweha said. "All those
arrested have confessed to have undergone Hezbollah terrorist training." The
possibility of a link with Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram, which Nigerian
forces are battling in a major offensive in the northeast, was being
investigated, Iweha said at a news conference.
An alliance between
Salafist Sunni Muslim Boko Haram and Shi'ite Hezbollah would be unusual, and
there has never previously been evidence of such a link.
Nigerian Muslims are Sunni, there are several thousand Shi'ite Nigerians, a
legacy of Muslim radical Ibrahim Zakzaky's preachings since the 1980s. Zakzaky
still leads Nigeria's main Shi'ite movement and has campaigned for an Islamic
government and stricter adherence to sharia law.
Iweha declined to say if
any link to Zakzaky was being investigated, and his movement is currently seen
as largely peaceful.
A Nigerian court sentenced an alleged member of
Iran's Revolutionary Guard and a Nigerian accomplice to five years in prison
this month over an illegal shipment of mortars and rockets seized in the main
port of Lagos in 2010.
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