Saturday 16 December 2017

170 killed as sect launches bomb attacks on officials

Police and government buildings targeted in northern Nigerian city

TERROR: Some victims' bodies are collected in Kano on Friday
TERROR: Some victims' bodies are collected in Kano on Friday

Monica Mark in Lagos

More than 170 people are now believed to have died in the northern Nigerian city of Kano after a series of bomb and gun attacks by the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram as residents left mosques on Friday.

By nightfall five police buildings, two immigration offices and the local HQ of the national intelligence services had been attacked.

"We are still collecting the bodies, so cannot confirm the total death toll. We have nine so far. We will know the final number once we have finished collecting [bodies]," a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency in Kano said.

Witnesses reported seeing at least 100 bodies sprawled around the regional police base alone. Officials in the main hospital said wounded people were still being ferried in yesterday.

Olusola Amore, a police official, appealed for people to "come forward with information on the identity and location of these hoodlums".

Boko Haram yesterday claimed responsibility for the wave of strikes. The sect has killed hundreds in the north of Africa's most populous nation in the last year.

The attacks late on Friday prompted the government to announce a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city of more than 10 million people, the country's second biggest.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticised for failing to act quickly and decisively enough against Boko Haram, said the killers would face "the full wrath of the law".

Police Corporal Aliu Abdullahi, who survived multiple gunshots, described a scene of chaos. "We were in the mess when we saw people running and heard gunshots from the gate, I saw them shooting. You could not differentiate the Boko Haram members from our Police Mobile Force men because they wore the same uniform," he said.

"They were more than 50. As I tried to run a bullet hit me on my left hand and another shot hit me on my chest. I fell."

The police said eight buildings were attacked, including police headquarters, three police stations, the headquarters of the secret services and the immigration head office.

Kano and other northern cities have been plagued by an insurgency led by Boko Haram, which is blamed for scores of bombings and shootings. These have taken place mostly in the Muslim-dominated north of Africa's top oil producer, whose main oil-producing facilities are located to the south.

Aimed mainly at government targets, the Boko Haram attacks have been growing in scale and sophistication.

Responsible (before this week) for more than 70 deaths this year, Boko Haram -- whose name means "Non-Islamic education is sacrilege" -- wants to extend sharia law, already in place in some northern states, across Nigeria's 160-million-strong population, evenly split between Muslim and Christian.

© Observer and AP

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