Violence in Nigeria continued today after Friday’s attacks in Kano, in northern Nigeria where terrorist group Boko Haram targetted police stations and security forces.
Local newspaper Vanguard quotes sources who heard gunshots through the night as military helicopters patrolled the sky.
Reports claim between 180 and 200 people died in the attacks, most of them local police officers and residents caught in the crossfire.
A police commander told the BBC that 50 members of Boko Haram came from three directions, threw explosives at the walls and stormed the building, freeing many prisoners reportedly affiliated with the group. Police forces withdrew when they ran out of bullets and escaped the compound – now in ruins – soon afterwards.
The BBC’s Africa Correspondent Andrew Harding spoke to Nigerian Prime Minister Goodluck Jonathan this weekend. President Jonathan said that “suicide attacks…are quite new to us”, adding that some arrests were made and that security forces are trailing suspects.
“Unfortunately the whole world is passing through terror attacks – a very ugly stage of our history. We know that we will get over it. We will continue to fight – the security services will not rest till we clean up the country,” he added.
The Nigerian Army cautioned against entering into negotiations, which President Jonathan is keen to do. He would like to establish a dialogue between the government and groups such as Boko Haram, so that each side may better understand the other.
“If they clearly identify themselves now and say, ‘This is the reason why we are resisting, this is the reason why we are confronting government’ or ‘This is the reason why we destroy some innocent people and their properties’ … then there will be a basis for dialogue,” said Jonathan.
“We will have a dialogue; let us know your problems and we will solve your problem. But if they don’t identify themselves, who will you dialogue with?”
The Human Rights Watch estimates that since the group began its campaign to enforce Sharia across the country in 2009, approximately 935 Nigerians have been killed in about 164 attacks by Boko Haram.
HRW also denounced Friday’s attacks as an “indefensible attack on human life”. Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher, said Boko Haram show a “complete and utter disregard for human life”, adding that authorities “need to call a halt to this campaign of terror and bring to justice those responsible for carrying out these reprehensible crimes.”
Friday’s attacks resulted in the highest death toll in a single day since the group’s violent campaign began in 2009.
In a statement issued this morning, Human Rights Watch said:
The group has claimed responsibility for bombing churches, police stations, military facilities, banks, and beer parlors, in northern Nigeria, as well as the United Nations building and police headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Suspected Boko Haram members, often riding motorcycles and carrying Kalashnikov rifles under their robes, have gunned down numerous Christian worshipers, police officers, and soldiers, and assassinated local politicians, community leaders, and Islamic clerics who oppose the group.