Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- At least 165 people were killed in the northern Nigerian city of Kano in bomb attacks on government buildings, the biggest by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, or Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for blasts that struck eight government buildings on Jan. 20, its spokesman, Abu Qaqa, said by phone. The attack by the group, which seeks sharia rule in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, was to avenge the persecution of its members in Kano, he said.
“It’s another declaration of intent and another indication of a problem that’s getting bigger, not smaller,” Antony Goldman, head of PM Consulting, which specializes in risk analysis in West Africa, said in a phone interview from London. The attacks represent a “significant challenge for the government.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, who declared a state of emergency in parts of four states in the northeast region on Dec. 31 to battle the insurgency, will visit Kano today to inspect the sites of the attacks, Aminu Dantiye, a spokesman for the Kano state government said by phone. Government buildings including a regional police office, a smaller station, the immigration office and a building used by the state security police, came under bomb and gun attacks yesterday, police said.
Authorities in Africa’s top oil producer blame Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” for bombings and attacks in the mainly Muslim north and the capital Abuja over the past year. The group claimed the Christmas Day bombing of a church near Abuja that killed 43 people and the Aug. 26 suicide-bombing of the United Nations building in the capital that killed 24 people.
Islamic militants pose a worse threat to the country than the 1967-1970 Biafra civil war, Jonathan said on Jan. 8.
“We will not fold our hands and watch enemies of democracy perpetrate unprecedented evil in our land, and I want to re-assure Nigerians and the international community that all those involved in that dastardly act would be made to face the wrath of the law,” Jonathan said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress, whose members helped to carry dead and wounded to hospitals, confirmed the fatalities in a phone interview. The dead included journalist Enenche Akogwu, Lagos-based Channels Television said in a statement.
Two churches in the northeastern city of Bauchi were damaged by overnight explosions, following a pattern of attacks on churches this year claimed by the militant group, Police Commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba said by phone today from the city of Bauchi.
In another incident, gunmen killed at least 11 people when they attacked a bank, a police station and a hotel today in the northeastern town of Tafawa Balewa, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Bauchi, police said.
Among the dead were two soldiers, a policeman and eight civilians, Police Commissioner Okechukwu Aduba, told reporters in Bauchi, capital of Bauchi state. “Ten unexploded improvised explosive devices were recovered from the scene and six suspects were arrested,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he’s “appalled at the frequency and intensity of recent attacks in Nigeria.” The African Union also condemned the attacks. The group will support the Nigerian government to end all such incidents, its chairman, Jean Ping, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
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