Schools in Nigeria capital closing for security

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm •  Published: May 3, 2014

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Security forces raided areas near the site of two bombings in Nigeria's capital and detained eight suspects including foreigners on Saturday, the Ministry of Defense announced as the city prepared to host a three-day international conference.

All schools and government offices in Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, will close during the May 7-9 World Economic Forum on Africa, according to a presidential order that follows two bomb attacks in three weeks that killed nearly 100 people. Islamic extremists are blamed for both.

A statement Friday night said the measure "is to ease the flow of traffic" during the conference, to which hundreds of international personalities, business and African leaders are invited. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is the guest of honor.

The government said it is deploying 6,000 police and troops to help secure the event, and President Goodluck Jonathan has assured delegates they will be safe.

Further indicating Nigeria's security threats, the U.S. Embassy warned Americans in an email Friday that "groups associated with terrorism" may be planning "an unspecified attack" on a Sheraton hotel in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

The hotel chain has two locally owned franchises in the southwestern city of about 20 million people. A duty manager at the $350-a-night Sheraton in Ikeja suburb, near the international airport, said he was unaware of any threat. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the Defense Ministry spokesman said in a statement Saturday that the eight people detained Saturday "are helping ongoing investigation with useful information." He said most of them are foreigners, without identifying nationalities.

In a separate operation in the northeast, he said a Chadian named Usman Mecheka who was "operating with the terrorists around Lake Chad" has been detained. Olukolade said the Chaidan had been trying to extract a ransom from herdsmen and farmers after an earlier attack.

Extremists killed four villagers in a pre-dawn attack Saturday on the outskirts of Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, the spokesman said. Security forces used mortar shells to repel the militants and kept them out of the city, he said.