Christmas Day church bomber rearrested after escape from custody

THE man suspected of masterminding the Christmas Day church bombing thatkilled at leat 44 people has been rearrested, police said today.

Kabiru Sokoto’s escape just a day after his arrest led to national

embarrassment and to the firing of the country’s top police official.

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Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said the nation’s secret police

arrested Sokoto in Taraba state, which borders Cameroon.

Abati said he had no other details about the arrest, and referred

questions to the State Security Service.

Another security official said officers arrested Sokoto as he hid behind

a clothesline at a home in the state.

Sokoto will be flown back to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on an air force

flight, the official said.

Police named Sokoto, an alleged member of the radical sect known as Boko

Haram, as the prime suspect for the D bombing of St. Theresa Catholic

Church in Madalla, a city just outside of Abuja.

However, Sokoto escaped from police custody a day after his arrest, an

embarrassment for Nigeria’s ill-equipped federal police. President

Goodluck Jonathan later fired the nation’s top police official a few

months before his mandated retirement.

The bombing struck just after 8am as worshippers began to leave the

sanctuary after a morning service. A car bomb detonated near the

church’s front steps, cutting down those leaving.

The wounded quickly overwhelmed Nigeria’s chronically underprepared

emergency services, filling the cement floors of a nearby government

hospital, crying in pools of their own blood. Corpses lined an open-air

morgue.

Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attack and separate

strikes that saw others die in two other Nigerian cities. The sect,

whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa

language, is carrying out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks

in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law and avenge Muslim

killings in Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million

people.

This year, the sect is blamed for at least 270 deaths, according to an

AP count.