Kano – At least 13 people were killed and 34 injured on Wednesday as a gunbattle broke out between police and suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers in Nigeria’s second city of Kano, police said.
Kano State police commissioner Adelere Shinaba said the gunmen, whom he described as “insurgents”, ran into the Federal College of Education after exchanging fire with police outside the grounds.
“They were obviously suicide bombers. One of our officers shot at one of the gunmen and the explosives on him went off, killing him on the spot,” he told AFP.
“Another gunman was also killed. Thirteen people were killed by the gunmen and 34 others have been taken to hospital with injuries.”
Most of the victims at the northern teacher training college were in a lecture hall, where the two gunmen ran and opened fire on students.
One student who was having lunch nearby and asked not to be identified, said he saw the gunmen, who were dressed in black, and heard them shouting for all female students to lie face down.
“They were saying (in pidgin English), ‘No be you say Boko Haram no they exist’ (Is it not you who say Boko Haram doesn’t exist?),” he added.
As shooting started, police opened fire and one of the gunman’s explosives detonated. The other was shot dead.
The blast shattered glass and brought down the ceiling in the room, while pools of blood and the remains of the bomber could be seen, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Police recovered explosives and two Kalashnikov assault weapons, Shinaba said.
Educational establishments in Kano — the commercial capital of the north and a centre of Islamic scholarship dating back centuries — have been hit several times in recent months.
On July 30, a female suicide bomber killed six people after detonating her explosives at a noticeboard on the campus of the Kano Polytechnic College while students were crowded around it.
The attack was the fourth by a female bomber in the city in a week and prompted the authorities to cancel celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On July 27, another female bomber blew herself up outside a university in Kano after police prevented her from getting inside the campus.
A previous bombing on June 23 killed at least eight when it went off in the grounds of the city’s School of Hygiene.
The bombings were linked to Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group opposed to so-called “Western education” that has been waging a deadly five-year insurgency in Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north.
The latest incident came a day after the Emir of Kano, Nigeria’s second-highest Muslim leader, gave his first interview since his appointment in June and called for action against militancy.
Muhammad Sanusi II, who as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said more investment was needed in the conflict-ridden north to prevent radicalisation.
“As long as people are gainfully employed, they’re not likely to jump onto the bandwagon of insurgency,” he told BBC television.
Nigeria’s military are under pressure to crush the insurgency after Boko Haram seized territory in the far northeast in recent weeks, declaring one captured town part of an Islamic caliphate.