Nigeria: Explosions rock Christian area of Kano

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Multiple explosions rocked a Christian area in Nigeria’s northern Kano city Monday night, with security forces ferrying scores of wounded to hospitals.

A mortuary attendant at Murtala Mohammed Specialists Hospital said at least 10 bodies had been brought in from the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Nigeria is fighting an Islamic uprising by extremists based mainly in the northeast, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Kano city and state are not part of that emergency.

Nigeria’s government is fighting an Islamic uprising by a network called Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden.” The group wants Islamic law imposed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million, which is divided almost equally between Christians who live mainly in the south and Muslims who dominate the north.

Witness Kolade Ade said at least one blast appeared to come from a Mercedes-Benz parked beside a kiosk selling alcohol and soft drinks.

“After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts,” he said.

The explosions came as hundreds of people thronged the area in Sabon Gari neighborhood, where some were playing snooker and others table tennis.

The explosions raised fears among the city’s mainly Muslim population, who usually go out for midnight prayers during this holy month of Ramadan.

Exactly a year ago, suspected Islamic militants attempted to attack a mosque in Kano city. They were engaged by police in running gun battles in which the militants killed five civilians and police killed four of the attackers.

In December, three days before Christmas, Kano was rocked by twin suicide car bombings that targeted two major mobile telephone companies. One worker was injured in one attack. Security officials botched the second attack by shooting the bomber, which caused an explosion at the company’s gate.

In January, worshippers foiled an attack on Kano Central Mosque, killing two suspected bombers.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on May 14 in six northeastern states covering one-sixth of the country, admitting that Islamic fighters had taken control of some towns and villages.

Militants have targeted Muslim political and religious leaders who preach against their extreme form of Islam. Recently, the militants have targeted schools, killing scores of students and some teachers.

The Boko Haram network is blamed for the killings of more than 1,600 people since 2010, when suicide bombers drove a car filled with explosives into the lobby of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

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Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria.

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