Kano attack: Nigeria bombing toll 'sure to rise'

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has promised to defeat the perpetrators of the attacks

The death toll from Friday's bomb attacks by Islamist militants in the Nigerian city of Kano is certain to rise further, doctors have said.

Hospital officials say 160 people have been confirmed dead, but that bodies are still arriving at mortuaries.

Boko Haram, which wants an Islamic state, said it launched the attack because the authorities refused to free a group of its members from jail.

President Goodluck Jonathan visited Kano to offer his condolences.

He has said that the security situation in Nigeria is now more complicated than it was during the 1967-1970 civil war.

But he has promised to track down the perpetrators of the Kano attack.

Boko Haram has launched a series of assaults over the past year, killing hundreds of people.

Its members have bombed churches, government buildings and police stations - mostly in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria.

At the scene

President Goodluck Jonathan's heavily guarded convoy roared through the dusty centre of Kano on Sunday taking him to one of the sites of Friday's devastating bomb attacks, and to a hospital where some of the wounded are being treated.

It was the briefest of tours - perhaps because of security concerns. Crowds lined the streets in some areas but were kept back by armoured cars and soldiers.

At the airport, just before the president boarded his plane, I managed to speak to him for a couple of minutes. It struck me as a rather detached performance from Nigeria's leader.

He was evidently keen to put Boko Haram into an international context: "These suicide attacks are not really part of us - they are quite new to us."

But the Kano attack appear to be the group's most deadly co-ordinated assault.

One doctor told the AFP news agency that the final toll was likely to be about 250.

"Although the bulk of the bodies were brought here [the main hospital], others were deposited at three other hospitals," the doctor said.

And aid workers were still collecting bodies from the streets on Sunday.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Kano says there is a growing belief that Boko Haram launched the attack to free some of its members from jail.

A local police chief told our correspondent that about 50 Boko Haram attackers had managed to free "many" prisoners.

Boko Haram, which loosely translates from the local Hausa language as "Western education is forbidden", says it wants to overthrow the national government and impose Islamic law.

Curfew

Boko Haram: Timeline of terror

  • 2002: Founded
  • 2009: Hundreds killed when Maiduguri police stations stormed; leader Mohammed Yusuf captured and killed
  • Dec 2010: Bombed Jos, killing 80 people; blamed for New Year's Eve attack on Abuja barracks
  • Jun-Aug 2011: Bomb attacks on Abuja police HQ and UN building
  • Dec 2011: Multiple bomb attacks on Christmas Day kill dozens
  • Jan 2012: Wave of violence across north-east Nigeria

It first hit the headlines in 2009 when a spate of attacks by its followers on police and government buildings in the city of Maiduguri led to a crackdown in which hundreds died.

Since then, a wave of bombings and shootings have killed police officers, government officials and both Muslim and Christian civilians.

Mr Jonathan's government has struggled to contain the violence, and has imposed emergency law in several parts of the north. Kano is under a night-time curfew.

On Sunday in Bauchi state several people were killed in an attack on a police station.

No group has said it carried out the attack, but Boko Haram have operated in the state in the past.

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