Death toll soars after Nigeria attacks

2012-01-21 18:44
Kano - Co-ordinated attacks claimed by a radical Islamist sect killed at least 143 people in north Nigeria's largest city, a hospital official said on Saturday, as gunfire still echoed around some areas of the sprawling city.

Soldiers and police officers swarmed over streets in Kano, a city of more than nine million people that remains an important political and religious hub in Nigeria's Muslim north. But their effectiveness remains in question, as the uniformed bodies of many of their colleagues lay in the overflowing mortuary of Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, Kano's largest hospital.

A hospital official there said at least 143 people died in the attacks on Friday. The count included some bodies already claimed by families for immediate burial per Islamic law, the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to disclose the figure to journalists.

Other bodies could be lying at other clinics and hospitals in the city.

Curfew

In a statement issued late on Friday, federal police spokesperson Olusola Amore said attackers targeted five police buildings, two immigration offices and the local headquarters of the State Security Service, Nigeria's secret police.

Nwakpa O Nwakpa, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Red Cross, said volunteers offered first aid to the wounded, and evacuated those seriously injured to local hospitals. He said officials continued to collect corpses scattered around sites of the attacks. A survey of two hospitals by the Red Cross showed at least 50 people were injured in Friday's attack, he said.

State authorities declared a 24-hour curfew late on Friday as residents hid inside their homes amid the fighting.

A Boko Haram spokesperson using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message to journalists. He said the attack came as the state government refused to release Boko Haram members held by the police.

Boko Haram has carried out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people.


Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  security  |  west africa

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