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Islamist group frees alleged leader

Jan. 19, 2012 at 6:25 PM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- An Islamist group freed a suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of a Catholic church a day after his arrest, Nigerian police said.

Kabiru Sokoto, the reputed deputy commander of Boko Haram, was being moved Wednesday in a vehicle and under armed guard, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported. Officials said a group of young men armed with guns surrounded the vehicle.

Sokoto was arrested Tuesday at the home of the governor of his home state of Borno.

The governor denies knowing Sokoto was at his house.

The senior police commissioner involved with the case was suspended from duty, officials said.

Sokoto allegedly planned the deadly attack on St. Theresa Church on the outskirts of Abuja. Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the bombing, appears to be trying to drive non-Muslims out of northern Nigeria.

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