KANO (AFP) – A suicide blast and a series of other strong explosions rocked the city of Kano on Friday, killing at least two officers, a police source said, with many others feared dead.
A senior police source said the suicide blast occurred at a regional police headquarters in Kano, the largest city in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria. Some 20 other explosions were also heard along with gunfire between blasts.
Residents reported blasts and gunfire at the state police headquarters and said that at least two other police posts appeared to have been targeted.
Local television was reporting that scores were feared dead in the attacks. Police were not responding to phone calls.
“There was a suicide attack on the police zone 1 headquarters,” the senior police source said on condition of anonymity. “So far two officers have been killed and the bomber also.”
The country’s emergency agency confirmed several explosions, including one reported at the regional police office, but were unable to get immediate access due to blocked roads.
“There are so many of these heavy blasts around the town,” said Abubakar Jibril, an official with the National Emergency Management Agency in Kano. “They have blocked the road.”
An AFP journalist heard what sounded to be some 20 explosions coming from at least two neighbourhoods in the city. Smoke could be seen billowing from the areas.
The loud explosions resulted in chaos, with motorcycles and cars fleeing the areas.
“It’s terrifying where we are now,” one resident said. “Bombs are going off inside the police headquarters, and then shootings between police and some gunmen.”
While earlier reports had suggested an immigration office had also been targeted, it later appeared that a nearby police station had been the object of the attack.
A resident in Marhaba district told of a fierce gun battle, adding: “Now my dress is drenched in blood because I had to help carry someone shot in the shootout.”
Another resident said a police station in the Unguwa Uku neighbourhood also appeared to have come under attack.
“Several explosions have occurred at the Yar Akwa police station,” he said. “Everybody is running for his life. It’s chaotic.”
Scores of bomb blasts in Nigeria’s north have been blamed on the Islamist group Boko Haram.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on December 31 in parts of four states hard hit by attacks blamed on the group.
Kano is not included in the state of emergency and has not been hit by any of the recent major attacks, most of them having occurred in the country’s northeast.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
The state of emergency has not stopped attacks, the areas targeted expanding outside the locations covered by the decree.
The inability of Nigerian authorities to tackle the problem was highlighted in recent days when the alleged mastermind of a Christmas day attack outside a church that killed 44 people escaped from police custody in suspicious circumstances.
Attacks specifically targeting Christians have also given rise to fears of a wider religious conflict in the country, with Christian leaders warning they will defend themselves. Some have even evoked the possibility of civil war.
However, attacks blamed on Boko Haram have included a wide range of targets, including Muslims.
The group also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja that killed 25 people.