LAGOS—Nigeria has repatriated around 11,000 foreigners mainly from Niger and Chad over the past six months to curb a growing Islamist insurgency, the immigration services said, Monday.
”The latest number of foreigners repatriated as at this morning is 11,000,” immigration services spokesman, Joachim Olumba, told AFP, updating an earlier figure.
He said: ”The bulk of them are from Niger and Chad.”
The Boko Haram Islamic sect, blamed for dozens of attacks in the country that have claimed hundreds of lives, is thought to draw some of its members from neighbouring countries.
Olumba said the repatriation “has been intensified in the past six months following the Boko Haram insurgency,” adding: “We have an obligation to rid the country of undesirable elements.”
He said immigration officers last week caught 120 people trying to enter illegally from Niger “and we quickly sent them back to their country”.
Boko Haram’s gun and bomb attacks have shaken Africa’s most populous country which is divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Its base is in northeast Nigeria which borders Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Violence blamed on Boko Haram, whose specific aims remain largely unclear, has since 2009 claimed more than 1,000 lives, including over 300 this year alone, according to a tally by AFP and activists.
The sect has previously said it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s deeply impoverished north.
Nigeria’s military authorities last week said Boko Haram has ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.