Many Police, Soldiers Killed in Nigeria Bombings

Posted January 21st, 2012 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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A series of coordinated bombings in the northern Nigerian city of Kano has killed well over 100 people. Many of the victims were police or soldiers.

One of the three hospitals where victims of Friday's blasts were taken reported a death toll of at least 131 people, and other reports from the predominantly Muslim city indicate the number of casualties may grow larger. The attack targeted police stations and government buildings.

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the multiple bombings.

A 24-hour curfew was still in force in Kano Saturday afternoon, and is expected to continue at least until Sunday morning. Reporters say the restrictions make it difficult to move about, but that relatives of the dead are being allowed to collect their loved ones' remains.

A reporter for VOA's Hausa Service says he felt and counted more than 24 blasts in Kano over a 90-minute period Friday, and the city's emergency coordinator said conditions were chaotic.

A spokesman for Boko Haram told reporters the bombings were in retaliation for the arrest of several sect members in Kano, the second largest city in Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous nation.

The militant group is blamed for many recent attacks in Nigeria, including a Christmas Day bombing near a Catholic church on the edge of Abuja, the capital, that killed nearly 40 people.

Nigeria is divided between a largely Christian south and a mostly Muslim north. Abuja is near the midpoint, but VOA's reporters say it is more northern in culture and atmosphere.

President Goodluck Jonathan previously declared a national state of emergency to try to rein in the attacks in the north and in Abuja, but it has had little effect.

The name Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilegious” in Hausa, the main language of the north. The group's aim is to implement Islamic law across Nigeria.