Five explosions at a bus park in northern Nigeria’s main city of Kano killed at least 60, with some eyewitnesses reporting as many as 100 dead, and dozens more wounded on Monday, in an area where Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against the government and against the Christian population.
Arab News The coordinated bombing came as an audio tape emerged of a man saying he was the father of a family of seven French tourists kidnapped by Boko Haram militants. On the tape he read out a threat by them to increase kidnappings and suicide bombings in Cameroon, if authorities there detain more of the group’s followers.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds in gun and bomb attacks since it intensified its insurgency two years ago, including 186 people killed in a coordinated strike on Kano in January 2012. They and other rebel groups have become the main threat to Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, and Western interests there, and increasingly menace neighbors like Cameroon.
The blasts in Kano destroyed five buses in the Sabon Gari area, mostly inhabited by migrants from Nigeria’s largely southern Igo tribe, the Reuters witness said. Military and police cordoned off the area after the blasts.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Boko Haram, which has frequently attacked the city, was a prime suspect. Security spokesman for Kano state, Ikedehia Iwehia, said dead and wounded had been evacuated, giving no figures.
Boko Haram often targets Christians. President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the blasts.
Several witnesses said one of the 60-seater buses targeted was full and completely destroyed. Charred bodies fell from it. “I ran for my dear life and managed to get out of the park after the second blast. Many people are lying dead. See, my clothes are covered in blood,” said witness Ibrahim Bello, holding up a blood-soaked shirt.
The French family was kidnapped from north Cameroon last month but is believed to be being held in Nigeria. Boko Haram has a presence in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, where the four meet on the threshold of the Sahara. Expanding attacks in Cameroon, a major oil, coffee and cocoa exporter, would further destabilise the region.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited Nigeria and Cameroon over the weekend to discuss the hostage crisis. Eight French nationals are being held in northern Nigeria — the family plus another being held by Ansaru group.