121 die as gun battles rage in Nigeria
Coordinated bomb attacks targeting security forces and gun battles have killed at least 121 people in Nigeria’s second-largest city of Kano, with bodies littering the streets yesterday.
A curfew was imposed on Kano in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north after it exploded into violence on Friday evening, with eight police and immigration offices or residences targeted.
The main newspaper in the north said a purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for the violence, saying it was in response to authorities’ refusal to release their members from custody.
Scores of such attacks in Nigeria’s north have been blamed on Boko Haram.
Some 20 huge blasts could be heard in the city as a suicide bomber attacked a regional police office and a car bomb rocked the outside of state police headquarters after the attacker fled and was shot dead, police sources said.
Other police posts were targeted, including a secret police building, as well as immigration offices.
Gunshots rang out in several areas, and a local television journalist was among those shot dead as he covered the unrest.
“Many agencies are involved in the evacuation of corpses from the streets,” a Red Cross source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly. “From our tally, we have 121 so far.”
An AFP correspondent counted at least 80 bodies in the morgue at Kano’s main hospital, many of them with gunshot wounds. Around 100 people waited outside the morgue to collect their relatives’ remains.
Residents also reported bodies in the streets, as officials from the Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Agency were working to collect corpses and deliver them to morgues.
“I am now walking along the street of my neighbourhood,” Naziru Muhammad, who lives near state police headquarters, said yesterday morning.
“Between my house and the police headquarters along this street, I have counted 16 dead bodies that litter the streets, six of them policemen.”
A police source on condition of anonymity said dozens were killed.
“There are heavy casualties around the police headquarters,” the police source said. “A lot of civilians have been shot by the attackers. It’s difficult to give a death toll, but the number of the dead runs into dozens.”
Details began to emerge of the attacks, which were said to include at least two suicide bombers.