Hospital officials say the death toll in the Friday attacks by Boko Haram, in the northern Nigeria city of Kano, has risen to over 150 with some reports quoting 200. These figures make the attacks the deadliest since the group's insurgency began.
Nigerian Pilot claiming a death toll of 200, gives details of the scope of the attacks, reporting that multiple explosions targeted several police stations in Kano, including the Kano Police Command Headquarters. A blast, according to Nigerian Pilot,, occurred in zone 1 office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, located along Bayero University road. Two other blasts ripped through the Zaria Road police station and Farm Center police station in Kano. An immigration office was attacked by gunmen. Three officers and civilians died in the attack. A reporter with Channels Television in Kano, Enenche Okwumgu, was killed while filming the attack.
Nigeria in shock
Nigeria is in shock at the ferocity of the latest attacks as death toll rises. Meanwhile, the authorities have again been repeating their ineffective vows that Boko Haram will "face the full wrath of the law."
While government officials have refused to give casualty figures in the attack, hospital authorities speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to The Associated Press that at least 143 people were killed in Friday's attacks. The sources said the death toll could be significantly higher because other mortuaries in Kano could also be holding bodies of victims.
Kano is the largest city in northern Nigeria with a population estimated at 9 million.
Vanguard Nigeria reports that bodies littered the streets of affected areas after the attack and wagons were deployed to collect them. According to Vanguard, a journalist said he counted 162 bodies in the mortuary of the city's main hospital. Vanguard quotes an official of the mortuary confirming the journalist's claim:
“We have been receiving dead bodies since last night from relief agencies involved in the evacuation of bodies. At this moment, we have 162 bodies in the morgue, and this figure may change because bodies are still being brought."Vanguard also quotes a resident of Kano who lives near the police headquarters the militants attacked:
“Between my house and the police headquarters along this street, I have counted 16 dead bodies that litter the streets, six of them policemen."Digital Journal reported that state authorities imposed a 24-hr curfew in the city after the attack. Soldiers and police were deployed in the metropolis, setting up roadblocks while gunshots continued echoing in the city till dawn.
Britain Foreign Secretary: "Attacks shocking and appalling"
President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the attacks. He said:
"As a responsible government, we will not fold our hands and watch enemies of democracy, for that is what these mindless killers are, perpetrate unprecedented evil in our land."
The President repeated the usual "assurances" that have ceased to make meaning to Nigerians: "I want to reassure Nigerians...that all those involved in that dastardly act would be made to face the full wrath of the law."
AP reports that the British Foreign Secretary William Hague, said on Saturday that the attacks were "shocking and appalling." He said:
"The full horror of last night's events is still unfolding, but we know that a great many people have died and many more have been injured. The nature of these attacks has sickened people around the world and I send my deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed and to those injured."
Boko Haram claims responsibility
Boko Haram has officially claimed responsibility for the attacks. Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa, in a statement on Friday, said the attacks came because government refused to release Boko Haram members in police custody.
While Boko Haram continues to claim it is targeting Christians in reprisal, it has so far been unable to separate the "wheat from the chaff" in its indiscriminate bloodletting attacks on innocent people. In the Friday attacks, Boko Haram killed Muslims as well as Christians. The killings may not be explained by the statement of the group's leader Imam Abubakar Shekau, that the group will also target Muslims who "betray the faith," because the Friday killings were simply indiscriminate.
Shekau's statement in which he swore "by Allah we will kill them (enemy Muslims) and their killing will be nothing to us. It will be like going to prayers at 5 a.m.," is seen as an attempt to muzzle northern Muslim leaders and create an appearance of general Muslim acquiescence to the Boko Haram agenda
Los Angeles Times notes that the attacks came after the escape from police custody of Kabiru Umar Sokoto, a Boko Haram militant accused of leading the Christmas bomb attack that killed 44 people in a Catholic church. The escape seems to confirm Goodluck Jonathan's recent allegation that Boko Haram has infiltrated the security services.