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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 12:11 GMT
Nigeria makes 'al-Qaeda' arrests
By Alex Last
BBC News, Lagos

Nigerian policeman checks car for bombs (archive photo)
Nigerian police have not faced any al-Qaeda attacks
A group of militants with suspected links to al-Qaeda in northern Nigeria has been arrested according to Nigeria's internal security service.

A State Security Service spokesman said men in three states were detained and explosive-making devices were found.

Nigeria has not suffered a terrorist attack and despite occasional arrests of suspected Islamic militants there is no evidence of al-Qaeda in Nigeria.

In September, the US embassy warned Nigeria is at risk of a terror attack.

A group of Islamic militants were found with fertiliser and explosive-making devices, following investigations in three states in northern Nigeria: Kano, Kaduna and Yobe.

The SSS said the men had suspected links to the al-Qaeda network and the Nigerian Taleban.

However, over the last few years the Nigerian authorities have detained many suspected militants yet have failed to produce any substantive evidence of an al-Qaeda presence or terrorist plot in the country and there's never been a terrorist attack here.

The Nigerian Taleban have nothing to do with the Taleban in Afghanistan.

They were initially a group of Islamic university students who raided a few police stations in north-eastern Nigeria in 2003.

Almost all were hunted down and killed by the Nigerian army.

There are some radical Islamic sects who exist in the effectively borderless arid areas where northern Nigeria meets Chad and Niger.

Given that Nigeria is a major oil producer yet its population is poor and equally split between Muslims and Christians, British and American officials have long been obsessed that Nigeria was ripe for al-Qaeda-style groups.

It is not clear if these arrests will give any substance to those fears.

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