23 January 2012

Nigeria: Kano Attacks - 'Men in Police, Army Uniforms Killed Dozens

Kano — Fresh witness accounts of the Kano carnage reveal how a team of about 50 men in Police and Army uniforms stormed the Bompai barracks and shot dead nearly everybody there during the chaos immediately after coordinated bombings in the city on Friday.

A female police officer who survived the shootings at the barracks said the unidentified assailants invaded the place and conducted "systematic killings" shortly after a bomb detonated at the nearby state police command.

She said the operation appeared to be well-timed, as it was executed at a time when people were scampering for safety following the explosions.

"They just came into the barracks in mobile police uniforms soon after the explosions at the police command and took the advantage of the situation shooting every person they saw running for safety," she told Daily Trust yesterday.

"These men deceived us by wearing mobile police uniforms and giving impression they were only there for a rescue mission; they took us by surprise when they started shooting every person they saw," the officer said.

After the indiscriminate shootings in the open, the men then went house-to-house in the barracks killing people including those who took cover inside toilets, she said.

"The following day dead bodies littered all over the place. It was a sad day indeed; we will never forget this day in life," she added.

Police Corporal Aliu Abdullahi also told Reuters news agency he saw men in Police uniform shooting people indiscriminately.

"We were in the mess when we saw people running and heard gunshots from the gate, I saw them shooting. You could not differentiate the Boko Haram members from our Police Mobile Force men because they wore the same uniform," Aliu, who survived multiple gunshots, said.

"They were more than 50. As I tried to run a bullet hit me on my left hand and another shot hit me on my chest I fell," he added.

Another witness said he saw close to 50 assailants when they attacked the police barracks and "killed every person inside except women and children."

He said began to climb the wall before they saw him and fired, hitting and injuring him.

The witness, who declined to give his name, said "all of them were dressed in either Mobile Police uniforms or Army camouflage. They also wore black cloth under their service caps. They appeared were more professional in the operation than the military."

A resident of the neighbourhood surrounding the barracks said at least 100 people were killed at the barracks alone. He said the place was now a 'ghost town' as most of the residents had taken refuge in other parts of the city.

He said the barracks which used to be safe place for refugees whenever there were religious or ethnic crisis in town was now deserted.

Daily Trust learnt that the attack on the residence of the Assistant Inspector General of Police was carried out also by unidentified uniformed men who, obviously planning to kidnap the AIG's family, told security men on guard that they were sent to take his family to a safe place.

When it was clear they could not succeed, they opened fire and the armed guards returned fire and in the process two of the AIG's personal staff were killed.

Death toll climbs

The coordinated series of bomb blasts and shooting sprees mostly targeting police stations on Friday has left at least 250 people dead, according to medics, making this by far the deadliest attack claimed by the Boko Haram sect.

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.

Aid workers were still collecting bodies from the streets yesterday.

Kano police authorities are yet to speak since the incident took place last Friday as they refused to respond to any enquiry on anything related to the explosions.

Govt relaxes curfew

The Kano State Government yesterday relaxed the 24-hour curfew earlier imposed on the state following Friday's bomb blasts and gun attacks.

Information Commissioner Umar Faruk Jibril announced the relaxation to newsmen in Kano, saying the curfew would now take effect from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jibril said the measure was meant to allow the people to conduct their activities within the scheduled period, and thanked them for complying with the initial curfew.

Emir weeps as Jonathan visist

Apparently overwhelmed by the level of the carnage, Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero yesterday shed tears when President Goodluck Jonathan visited him at his palace.

The emir was seen repeatedly wiping away tears from his face while delivering his emotion-laden speech.

Bayero urged the Federal Government to increase the number of security personnel in the state to beef up security given the size of the state. "The security personnel in Kano are not sufficient enough to give the state the necessary protection in crisis situation," he said.

He said the state has only 8,300 police officers to protect over nine million people.

Earlier, President Jonathan said government would not rest until it wiped out all forms of terrorism in the country.

"We cannot allow these terrorists to keep terrorising us. We will not rest until we wipe all forms of terrorism in this country so that terrorist will have no place to live in the country," he said.

"I am urging every one of us to try and know his neighbour and what he is doing as a profession so that you can do self-policing for yourselves before you are taken unawares," Jonathan said.

"You people should be assisting the securities with useful information that will help them do their work effectively. If you don't assist the securities and things continue to happen, one day it will consume all of us," he added.

He said the Federal Government would collaborate with the state government to assist victims of the attacks, and assured that government would assist in boosting irrigation farming in Kano to provide employment opportunities.

Cars found with bombs

Two cars, a Honda Civic with registration number BB 748 NSR, Kano and a Kia with registration number FD 966 LND, were found yesterday wired with locally made explosives along Eastern Bypass in Kano city.

Police personnel recovered eight explosives locally made with cans of drinks and cigarette filters in the two vehicles.

Other items recovered include a kerosene stove, an old electricity metre and electric wires. The items were being kept in police custody.

But efforts to get the police to confirm the incident proved abortive as access was denied in to the police headquarters and the telephone of the police spokesman was switched off.

Witnesses said the cars were noticed parked there since last Friday evening during the time when multiple bomb explosions rocked the city. The Honda vehicle was found parked at NNPC mega station while the Kia was parked few metres away, at Chula filling station along the bypass

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