Officials in Nigeria’s Kaduna state are raising concerns that jihadist rebels have infiltrated their territory and are calling on the federal government to intervene.
State governor Nasser al-Rufai made the announcement during a quarterly security assessment.
During the meeting, al-Rufai said fighters from Ansaru and Boko Haram had been detected in two local government areas, and added that terrorist groups were attempting to recruit residents of those areas.
Officials also said that more than 360 people, including 45 women, were killed by armed groups in the state between January and March. He said more than 1,300 people were abducted.
“The first major concern is the emergency situation of the Boko Haram enclave, as well as the activities of Ansaru, particularly the Birin Gwari and Chikan local governments,” Al-Rufai said. “The terrorists were commenting like the forests in Kaduna are even better that the forests of Sambisa and so they all move here.”
The Sambisa forest in Borno state has been the home of Boko Haram fighters for years.
Kaduna state, near Nigeria’s capital, has seen a wave of attacks in recent months, including a March 28 train attack that killed nine people and kidnapped more than 60 others.
Al-Rufai said the attack was planned by terrorists who are now roaming parts of the state.
Officials also said they were considering relocating three communities – Rizana, Kateri and Akilibu – over concerns that they could harbor informers working for the gang.
Security analyst Patrick Agbambu says the success of Nigeria’s military operations in the northeast, where Boko Haram has been active for more than a decade, is the reason why terrorists are spreading to other regions.
“The movement of terrorist activities is shifting to the north-west and north-central. Terrorist groups want to use places where they can make statements, where they will attract attention,” Agambambu said. “Security agencies and Nigeria should be very careful in those areas.”
Nigerian defense officials said this week that more than 53,000 Boko Haram members and their families have surrendered to the military so far this year.
Also, this week, Nigerian police announced that they had arrested 31 kidnappers and perpetrators who took part in a school kidnapping last year.