Nigeria: Boko Haram threatens to attack mobile phone networks

A Nigerian bomb disposal officer was killed Tuesday after Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that has killed hundreds in Nigeria this year alone, threatened to intensify its attacks, according to local news sources.

After one bomb exploded near a military checkpoint in the city of Kaduna, the disposal officer was killed attempting to deactivate a second bomb, reports AFP.

"We lost one of our men from the police bomb disposal unit. He died when an explosive device he was trying to defuse exploded, killing him on the spot," said Kaduna state police spokesperson Aminu Lawan, according to AFP.

This comes after the group threatened to attack mobile phone companies and industry regulators in a phone conference last night with Nigerian reporters.

Channels TV reports they talked to a spokesperson for the group who claimed to be named Abul Qaqa. On Feb. 1, it was widely reported that Qaqa had been arrested. Last week, authorities said they never confirmed the arrest, with one official saying he was falsely quoted, according to the Daily Trust. The Nigerian Tribune says the name was adopted by a new spokesperson after the arrest.

More from GlobalPost: Who is Abul Qaqa?

Boko Haram said the man who was arrested was Abul Dadar, not Abul Qaqa, reports Information Nigeria. The group said it will attack mobile phone companies for helping the government track and arrest the leaders. It also threatened to attack the Nigeria Communication Commission for directing companies to share information with security services.

“No matter what, we cannot be deterred," said Qaqa, according to Information Nigeria. "No amount of arrest of leaders will stop us from striking but, like I said, we will strike and it will be soon.” 

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sin,” wants Shariah law more widely applied in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer. The group has killed 935 people since it began violent operations in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch. Last month, nearly 200 people were killed in the northern city of Kano after the group bombed police stations and government offices.

As confusing as the identity of the group’s spokesperson are reports of who has been killed in the past two days. Reuters reports that the military claims to have killed 12 suspected Boko Haram operatives on Sunday after being attacked over the weekend, while two of their men were injured. Boko Haram told the agency that in the same attack, 12 government soldiers were killed.

More from GlobalPost: Boko Haram claims north Nigeria suicide attack

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