KANO, Nigeria — Coordinated attacks claimed by a radical Islamist sect killed at least 120 people in north Nigeria’s largest city, hospital records seen Saturday show, as gunfire still echoed around some areas of the sprawling city.
Soldiers and police officers swarmed over streets Saturday in Kano, a city of more than 9 million people that remains an important political and religious hub in Nigeria’s Muslim north. But their effectiveness remains in question, as the uniformed bodies of many of their colleagues lay in the overflowing mortuary of Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, Kano’s largest hospital.
Hospital records seen by an Associated Press reporter there showed at least 120 people died in the attacks that started Friday afternoon after Muslim prayers and as shops closed for the weekend in the sprawling, dusty city. A mortuary attendant, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with journalists, said they had 126 bodies there.
Other bodies likely lay at other clinics and hospitals in the city.
In a statement issued late Friday, federal police spokesman Olusola Amore said attackers targeted five police buildings, two immigration offices and the local headquarters of the State Security Service, Nigeria’s secret police.
Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, a spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross, said volunteers offered first aid to the wounded, and evacuated those seriously injured to local hospitals. He said officials continued to collect corpses scattered around sites of the attacks. A survey of two hospitals by the Red Cross showed at least 50 people were injured in Friday’s attack, he said.
State authorities declared a 24-hour curfew late Friday as residents hid inside their homes amid the fighting.
A Boko Haram spokesman using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message to journalists. He said the attack came as the state government refused to release Boko Haram members held by the police.
Boko Haram has carried out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language, is responsible for at least 510 killings last year alone, according to an AP count. So far this year, the group has been blamed for at least 196 killings, according to an AP count.