Nigeria rights group puts toll at 100

2011-12-24 19:44

Kano - A wave of attacks in northern Nigeria attributed to a radical Islamist group may have killed up to 100 people, police and a local rights group said on Saturday.

"From reports I have been receiving from Damaturu, up to 100 people could have been killed," a senior police source in the region told AFP, while Chidi Odinkalu, head of the Open Society Justice Initiative, gave a figure of 69-100.

The two days of attacks which saw three cities rocked by explosions and gunfire were carried out by the Boko Haram group, according to a purported spokesperson, Abul Qaqa, who spoke to AFP.

"We are responsible for the attacks in Maiduguri, Damaturu and Potiskum. We carried out the attacks to avenge the killings of our brothers by the security forces in 2009," he said.

"We will continue to wage war against the Nigerian state until we abolish the secular system and establish an Islamic state."

Sporadic firing could still be heard on Saturday, but the situation was generally calm, local residents and security officials said.

There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has formed links with outside extremist groups, including al-Qaeda's north African branch.

The group is believed to have a number of factions with varying aims.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with some 160 million people, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.