Sokoto, seat of the Sultan - head of the Muslim Ummah- which has been largely spared of attacks, was hit by twin suicide bombings yesterday.
Two police stations, including the headquarters of Zone 10, where the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) is located, were the targets of suicide bombers.
Four persons were killed, among them a police corporal. The two suicide bombers were blown into pieces. Over 30 people were injured.
Sokoto was thrown into panic, with people running helter skelter.
Last night there was sporadic gun shots around the Arkilla Divisional police station, hours after the morning suicide blasts.
The exchange of fire sources believed, was between the police and unidentified persons suspected to be criminals.
The gun shots were heard minutes to the time of breaking of fast by muslims even as there were no official reports of killing or injuries.
But unconfirmed sources said four persons were feared dead in the marathon shootings that shattered normal activities of residents many of whom took to their heels for refuge.
The AIG Zone 10 office is at Marina, the centre of town. The other police station attacked is at Ungwar Rogo.
A Corporal, identified as Samaila and the suicide bomber, died at the AIG’s Zone 10 office blast.
The attack on Ungwar Rogo Police Station left the suicide bomber and one hair dresser dead.
The hair dresser, who operates a saloon in one of the Police Officers’ Wives Association (POWA)corner shops, was killed.
The blast destroyed almost one-third of the building, damaging the official car of the AIG.
The twin explosions were carried out simultaneously by the attackers.
The Marina suicide bomber, who drove a Honda Civic vehicle, reportedly forced his way into the premises to launch the attack.
AIG Mukhtari Ibrahim said the suicide bomber was stopped by the police but he resisted and rammed his vehicle into the building.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Kudu Nma of U/Rogo said the suicide bomber could not penetrate the premises of the station and crashed into the POWA building.
“ We had always cordoned off the police station and that made it difficult for the bomber to access the premises,” he said.
Boko Haram Islamists, responsible for scores of deadly gun and bomb attacks in recent months, are suspected of having hideouts in Sokoto, but the group has rarely struck within the city.
A Red Cross official said: “A policeman and woman were killed in the bombings. Thirty people were injured, mostly around the market in the Yan Marina neighbourhood,” said the official who requested anonymity.
Yan Marina resident Usman Bube said the area was “engulfed in flames”.
“There was a huge explosion about an hour ago at the police station that was followed by thick smoke,” Bube told AFP. “It is so chaotic now, with people running to safety.”
A senior police officer, who did not want to be identified, said the bomber approached the station in a vehicle packed with explosives and was denied entry at the security gate, where the vehicle then blew up.
Lawai Danfili, who lives near the Unguwar Rogo station, said residents raced into their homes following the attacks.
“We heard a loud explosion around the police station. The impact of the explosion shook houses in the area. We all moved indoors,” he said.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted police across the North, where most of its attacks have been carried out.
The radical Islamist group has long stated its loathing for traditional Muslim leaders, saying they have betrayed the faith by subjecting themselves to the secular government.
Boko Haram has said it wants to create an Islamic state in the North.
In May, gunmen accused of being Boko Haram members, shot at a building near the Yan Marina Police Station, killing one officer and a civilian.
A Briton and an Italian were killed in Sokoto in March during a failed attempt to free them from their kidnappers. They were believed to have been shot by their captors before they could be rescued.
Boko Haram, which regularly claims attacks in statements sent to journalists, denied involvement in the kidnapping and killing the two Europeans.
The group has claimed the deaths of more than 1,000 people in attacks since mid-2009 and three of its top leaders have been designated as global terrorists by the United States.
via The Nation
New York Times
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