CORRECTED-Nigeria arrests 42 Boko Haram suspects in Lagos, Ogun

Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:17pm IST

(Corrects source to army spokesman from police spokesman)

LAGOS, July 30 (Reuters) - Nigerian authorities have arrested 42 suspected members of Islamist sect Boko Haram in Lagos and the neighbouring southwest state of Ogun, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.

During a four-year insurgency Boko Haram's attacks have been focused mostly in the Muslim north, far from the commercial capital Lagos and the southern oil fields which provide more than 2 million barrels per day to world markets.

The sect, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in the religiously mixed country, has never claimed responsibility or been blamed for an attack in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city.

"We have arrested 42 suspected members of Boko Haram in Lagos and Ogun," said an army spokesman in Lagos, Kingsley Umoh. "Some have already confessed to being Boko Haram and said they fled the northeast due to the military efforts there."

A military crackdown in Boko Haram's northeast stronghold since mid-May has weakened the group but it has also pushed militants into hiding and security sources fear attacks could spread to other areas.

Multiple bomb blasts in Nigeria's biggest northern city of Kano killed 15 people on Monday in a predominently Christian area previously targeted by Boko Haram. (Reporting by Tim Cocks in Lagos and Isaac Abrak in Kaduna; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Sonya Hepinstall)

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