KANO - Scores of people have been killed in a series of Boko Haram gun battles and coordinated bombing attacks targeting Nigeria's security forces, spreading chaos in the country's second-largest city Kano.
"Definitely more than 100 have been killed," a senior local government security source told Reuters on Saturday, January 21.
"There were bombs and then gunmen were attacking police and police came back with attacks.
A series of attacks started on Friday night after a suicide bomber attacked a regional police office and a car bomb rocked the outside of state police headquarters, police sources said.
At least 20 huge blasts were heard later in the city at several police stations, including a secret police building and immigration offices.
Gunshots rang out in several areas, and a local television journalist was among those shot dead as he covered the violence.
At least 11 police officers were believed to be among the dead.
"There are heavy casualties around the police headquarters," a police source told Agence France Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity.
"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."
Declining to provide figures on the number of dead, officials from the Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Agency said they were working to collect bodies and deliver them to morgues.
Yet, an AFP correspondent said he counted at least 80 bodies in the morgue at Kano's main hospital, many of them with gunshot wounds.
The toll was thought to be higher according to the BBC which said that at least 120 people were killed in the attacks.
"I am now walking along the street of my neighborhood," Naziru Muhammad, who lives near state police headquarters, told AFP on Saturday 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."
The attacks prompted the government to announce a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city of more than 10 million people.
A few hours following the attacks, the hard-line sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks
A spokesman for Boko Haram contacted reporters in the northeast city of Maiduguri, where the sect is based, to claim responsibility for the attacks.
Copies of a letter were also dropped around Kano, which appeared to be from the group.
The letter, written in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria, said the attacks were retribution for police arrests and killings of members of the sect.
The police said in a statement they "are doing their best to bring the situation under control ... (we are) appealing to members of the public to come forward with information on the identity and location of these hoodlums."
The African Union (AU) rushed on Saturday to condemn the latest "terrorist" attacks in Kano.
"The chairperson of the commission of the African Union, Jean Ping, condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Kano ... (Ping) expresses AU's condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those wounded a speedy recovery," the AU said in a statement.
Boko Haram, which wants a wider application of Shari`ah, says the attacks were in retaliation to assaults on Muslims.
At least 40 people were killed in attacks claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram group on churches on Christmas Day.
The most deadly attack killed at least 27 people in the St Theresa Catholic church in Madalla, a town on the edge of the capital Abuja, and devastated surrounding buildings and cars as faithful poured out of the church after Christmas mass
Muslim groups from around the world have condemned the attacks, stressing that the attackers don't represent the true Islamic teachings.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net