24 January 2012

Nigeria: Chadians Among Kano Attackers, Police Say

Photo: Vanguard
The threat posed by Boko Haram militants to Nigeria was a major topic of news from the country in 2012.

Abuja/Kano — Police yesterday said people speaking a Chadian language were among the attackers who waged bombing and shooting sprees in Kano last Friday, killing a total of 185 people according to the first official tally.

"The extremists are said to be speaking accented Hausa language, Kanuri and Chad languages," the state police command said in its first account of the carnage.

Friday's strike was the deadliest yet claimed by the Boko Haram sect, which said it launched the Kano attacks because the security agencies were holding its followers.

A statement by Police Commissioner Ibrahim K. Idris late yesterday said 150 of the dead were civilians, 29 were police officers, three were secret police officers, two were immigration officers and one was a customs officer.

Idris also announced that the police found 10 unexploded car bombs in the city, three days after the wave of attacks targeting security agencies.

The statement said: "Among the areas affected are police zonal headquarters along BUK Road, whereby a suicide bomber drove a car forcefully through the gates and detonated a bomb which destroyed part of the building. Same group of terrorists launched an attack at Farm Centre and Zaria Road Division, Immigration Passport office located at Farm Centre, SSS Headquarters at Giginyu Quarters, official residence of AIG Zone One and St. Louis Secondary School simultaneously.

"At the command headquarters Bompai, two cars heavily loaded with explosives devices, primed for suicide mission were resisted by the police. The first suicide bomber drove through the JFK end of Bompai Barracks and when resisted by the officers on duty detonated on the road and could not have an access to the barracks.

"While the second vehicle Toyota Camry was sporadically fired by the police, ran into the wall and could not have an access into the State Headquarters. The driver while attempting to escape was gunned down and the explosives were demobilized by the men of Explosive Ordinance Device.

"The extremists also attacked and brutally killed innocent civilian citizens who were going about their lawful business along Tudun Wada Road, Club Road, Old Cemetery Road, Abuja Yandusa, SDY Roundabout, Farm Centre GSM market, Sule Gaya Road, Dantata Road and St. Louis Avenue.

"The available statistics to the police indicated that 29 policemen, 3 SSS officers, 2 Immigration officers, 1 Customs officer and a total of 150 civilians so far killed by the extremists. In the same vein, a good friend and pressman Mr. Enenche Okogwu of Channels TV was also among those killed during the massacre. The extremists are said to be speaking accented Hausa language, Kanuri and Chad languages."

Idris listed the items recovered by the police as follows: "Ten different makes of motor vehicles comprising of Honda CRV, Toyota Camry of different models, Honda Brahma, Golf, Toyota First Lady etc were recovered loaded with improvised explosive devices at places like Sheka Quarters, NNPC Mega filling station Hotoro, Tishama, Goron Dutse, Farawa, Miller Road and Police Headquarters Road Bompai all in Kano metropolis.

"300 Coca-cola sized cans of improvised explosive devices recovered at various locations in the city. 8 Peak milk tins of 350grams loaded with improvised explosive devices (and) 8 drums size of 350 kilo grams with improvised explosive devices loaded in cars in various locations in the city."

Hours before the police made the official announcement, a source told Daily Trust that a retired police officer was caught yesterday afternoon with a bomb-laden vehicle at Goron Dutse area in Kano city.

The suspect was being held in police custody. He was arrested wearing a bullet proof vest, with a Toyota Camry car and carrying ammunitions and other explosives, the source said.

AFP news agency also quoted a senior police officer as saying on condition of anonymity: "So far we have discovered over 100 home-made bombs in the operation we have launched in bomb recovery in different parts of the city."

Yesterday, Senate president David Mark said he and the speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal had ignored security risks to travel to Kano.

"We want to ensure that a few misguided Nigerians who have been led into this action don't take this country hostage... it is not about religion, this affects the entire nation," Mark said in Kano.

In a BBC Hausa interview monitored yesterday, Tambuwal urged the Federal Government to forgive and dialogue with the Boko Haram sect as part of efforts to end its uprising.

Tambuwal said there was the need to "forgive them, bring them to the table and discuss with them to see how to end these problems."

Asked if he meant use of force should be replaced with dialogue, the Speaker said government could take all measures, starting with dialogue and if it fails then resorting to use of force.

Meanwhile about 200 Muslim clerics and political leaders offered peace prayers in Kano.

"I will pray to God that we should never re-live the catastrophe that resulted in the deaths and maiming in our city," Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said.

Emir of Kano Ado Bayero told the clerics: "I enjoin you to continue praying for peace and stability in our city. I call upon you to use any religious fora to pray for peace in our land."

A purported spokesman for Boko Haram using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa claimed responsibility for the attacks on Friday, saying they were in response to a refusal by the authorities to release its members from custody. Some detainees being held at a police station in Kano were thought to have been freed during Friday's attacks.

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