Two bombs exploded at the mosque of one of Nigeria‘s top Islamic leaders Friday, a week after he issued a call to arms to fight Boko Haram.
The blasts happened at the Grand Mosque in Kano, the biggest city in the Muslim north of the country, just as Friday prayers had got under way at about 2:00 pm (1300 GMT). The mosque is attached to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Nigeria‘s second most senior Muslim cleric.
The explosions came after civilian vigilantes in the northeastern city of Maiduguri said they foiled a bomb attack against a mosque, five days after two female suicide bombers killed over 45 people in the city.
“Two bombs exploded, one after the other, in the premises of the Grand Mosque seconds after the prayers had started,” worshipper Aminu Abdullahi said.
“A third one went off in a nearby road close to the Qadiriyya Sufi order. The blasts were followed by gunshots by the police to scare off potential attacks.”
His account was backed up by another witness, Hajara Tukur, who said she lives nearby.
National police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told AFP he was waiting for a briefing from officers at the scene and declined further comment. There was no official word on casualties.
The emir, known officially as Muhammad Sanusi II, last week said at the same mosque that northerners should take up arms against Boko Haram, which has been fighting for a hardline Islamic state since 2009.
He also cast doubt on Nigerian troops’ ability to protect civilians and end the insurgency, in rare public comments by a cleric on political and military affairs.
– Influential figure –
The Emir of Kano is a hugely influential figure in Nigeria, which is home to more than 80 million Muslims, most of whom live in the north.
Officially the emir is the country’s number two cleric, behind the Sultan of Sokoto, and any attack could inflame tensions in Nigeria’s second city, which is an ancient seat of Islamic study.
Sanusi was named emir earlier this year and is a prominent figure in his own right, having previously served as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.