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Nigerian army detains two Al Jazeera journalists

Nigeria's military has detained two journalists working for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera. The two reporters are being monitored for moving around in areas where the Boko Haram is active.

Al Jazeera journalists Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa were detained in their hotel rooms on Thursday over accusations of "loitering" in areas where the Nigerian military was conducting operations against the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, the news outlet said on its website.

Idris and Mustafa were taken into custody in Maiduguri while reporting on the Nigerian forces fighting Boko Haram as part of their news organization's special coverage on the upcoming elections this weekend.

Al Jazeera quoted the Nigerian army as saying that the journalists were operating without "protection, accreditation or due clearance," and that the two would be kept under custody until further notice.

However, the Doha-based news organization demanded the immediate release of its two employees, saying they had been officially accredited by Nigeria's independent electoral commission and had a clearance to report from anywhere in the country during the election period.

The country is

holding parliamentary elections this weekend

, considered a big test for President Goodluck Jonathan, whose handling of the Boko Haram crisis has made him unpopular with his citizens.

The country has ordered the

closure of land and sea borders on March 28

, the day of the delayed vote, after the Islamist terror group was reported to have abducted over 500 people in Damasak, Borno state. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in Boko Haram attacks in the first three months of this year, Human Rights Watch said in its latest report.

mg/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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