Boko Haram hits Kano again at dawn

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Gunmen, believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect have opened fire on the Mandawari police station in the beleaguered city of Kano, the AFP and Reuters have reported.

The attacks happened at dawn today, the second time the militants would train their guns on the station.

“It was crazy. These guys came on motorcycles and opened fire on the police station but they met tough resistance from the police, and it lasted around 20 minutes,” Jamilu Muhammad, who lives across the police station, told AFP.

On Saturday, the purported spokesman of the insurgents ruled out dialogue with Nigerian authorities and instead warned it would spread its attacks to Sokoto, the spiritual headquarters of Northern Muslims.

Witnesses said it was not yet clear if there were any casualties on Monday, and police were not immediately available for comment.

“From my house I heard gunshots at exactly 5:50 am (0450 GMT) coming from around the police station,” said a local journalist who lives in the neighbourhood.
He said motorcyles were racing up and down his street as the sound of gunfire rang around the police station.

The attack occurred during Muslim morning prayers in the Mandawari neighbourhood, not far from the palace of the emir of Kano, the most important traditional leader in the city.

Kano remains under a dusk to dawn curfew imposed following the series of bombings and shootings on January 20 that mainly targeted police stations and killed at least 185 people.

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Monday’s attack was the fourth on police buildings since then.

Dozens of soldiers went on patrol in the neighbourhood immediately after the assault but most later left, leaving only a truckload with seven soldiers outside the police station.

In leaflets distributed around Kano over the weekend, Boko Haram warned residents that it would continue to target the security services in northern Nigeria’s main city.

Kano had previously escaped the worst of Boko Haram’s violence, and the brazen January 20 attacks highlighted the group’s renewed strength.

The sect has been blamed for the deaths of more than 900 people in roughly 160 separate attacks since July 2009. It has claimed attacks that have killed more than 200 people since the start of 2012.

In a media interview last week, President Goodluck Jonathan urged the group to enter dialogue.
But Jonathan’s call was “not sincere,” purported Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa told journalists by telephone in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the group’s base.

He warned that if members of the group being held by police in the northwestern city of Sokoto were not released, the group would launch attacks similar to those staged in Kano. Sokoto is also the home base of the country’s supreme Muslim leader, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar.

Boko Haram’s intensified campaign of violence has shaken Nigeria and heightened ethnic and religious divides of the country.