Israel 'stands by' Nigerian people after terror attacks

Dual car bombings kill 12 in Nigeria; former terrorist leader arrested in Johannesburg in connection with attacks.

Nigeria car bomb AP 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Nigeria car bomb AP 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
An ex-leader of a terrorist group that claimed responsibility for a dual car bombing that killed 12 in Nigeria has been arrested in Johannesburg, a spokeswoman for Nigeria’s secret police said on Saturday.
Marilyn Ogar, a spokeswoman for the State Security Service, also acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that her secretive agency had intelligence beforehand that an attack was imminent. However, it and others were unable to stop the bombings that targeted celebrations surrounding Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
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Ogar said police arrested Henry Okah, the ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, sometime after the bombings on Friday.
Israel issued a statement on Saturday night strongly condemning Friday’s terrorist attack in Abuja that killed at least 12 people.
“We stand by and support the Nigerian people and the government of Nigeria in their fight against terror,” the statement read.
The government of Israel “sends its condolences to the families of innocent Nigerians that lost their lives in the attack and wishes the injured speedy recovery.”
The Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta, also known by the acronym MEND, issued a warning to journalists about an hour before the attacks, telling people to stay away from festivities at Eagle Square in the capital, Abuja. It blamed Nigeria’s government for doing nothing to end the unceasing poverty in the delta as the nation receives billions of dollars from oil revenue.
The militant group has destroyed oil pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company workers and fought government troops since 2006.
Okah was freed from a Nigerian jail in July 2009 after the nation’s attorney-general dropped the treason and gun-running charges against him. He later moved to Johannesburg after MEND said he suffered from a kidney ailment.
Ogar also said her agency had received “intelligence from our foreign partners, long, long before the attacks.” She said security agencies and police cordoned off the area surrounding Eagle Square, where President Goodluck Jonathan and other dignitaries watched a military parade.
The dual car bombs detonated about a 10-minute walk away. The event went on uninterrupted.
“Unfortunately, there’s no way security can be 100-percent foolproof,” Ogar said. “We are happy all the same the event went on smoothly and wasn’t interrupted.”