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Nigeria arrests 120 militants as they plan funeral for slain commander

May 21, 2013 at 9:50 AM   |   Comments

ABUJA, Niger, May 21 (UPI) -- About 120 insurgents were arrested in northern Nigeria as they planned the funeral of a commander killed earlier in the week, military officials say.

The arrests came Monday in the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, where military authorities have relaxed a 24-hour curfew after they said the security situation in the state had improved, the Nigerian Tribune reported Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, director of defense information in Abuja, confirmed the arrests, adding that government troops had spotted a few shallow graves believed to be those of insurgents who had been hurriedly buried as government forces advanced.

He said the militants appeared to have fled toward Chad and the Niger Republic, but denied reports civilians had fled into the same countries. Photographs taken and used by the media that purportedly showed such migrations were "questionable," he said.

The police commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory, the area surrounding the national capital of Abuja, warned Monday that civilians fleeing the conflict in the north were flooding into Abuja, stressing the ability of local officials to deal with the influx.

Military officials eased the round-the-clock curfew in Yobe and Borno states that had left residents without access to food or water since it was imposed late last week.

In Yobe, residents now must stay off the streets only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. In Borno, the curfew has been shortened to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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