News / Africa

Nigerian City in Shock After Bomb Attacks Kill Scores

A survivor of a bomb attack rests at a hospital bed in Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 21, 2012.
A survivor of a bomb attack rests at a hospital bed in Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 21, 2012.

The death toll from Friday's bomb attacks in Nigeria's second largest city, Kano, is at least 131 and may be more than 150.

The scarred city was under a strict curfew for the second night as shell-shocked police tried to come to terms with the loss of colleagues, as well as the security lapse that allowed at least six teams of attackers to strike so sytematically. Kano is under a news blackout as authorities scour the city for suspects in the bombings.

The targets of the bombs included all of the city's main police headquarters, including the offices of the SSS, the State Security Service.

Indications are that scores of officers died, but VOA's Hausa language service reporter Salisu Radiu said it was impossible to get details because officials normally tasked with speaking to reporters could not be reached.

"The problem is that the police are not ready to talk, so we don't having anything from their side, and it is only them who can give us the exact figures of those involved, if there are any arrests, or how many of their men were killed," Radiu said. "All their phones are off, and we tried to go there but on the way they stopped us from entering the police headquarters."

Despite a strict 24-hour curfew, reporter Radiu was able to visit one of three hospitals where victims were taken.

"I went to one hospital. From the information we got, there [were] dead bodies at the morgue - about 130 - and we saw 36 injured who are receiving treatment at the hospital."

Reporters in Kano said information from the other two hospitals where victims were taken was sketchy, making it impossible to verify the exact death toll.

The Islamist radical group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks. A spokesman told reporters that police facilities had been targeted because authorities have refused to release arrested members of the sect.

Boko Haram is also blamed for a number of other spectacular bombings over the past year, including a Christmas Day explosion outside a Catholic church that killed dozens of worshippers.

Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilegious,” in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria.

The country of 160 million is divided more or less evenly between the mostly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.

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