Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university in Kano

Students taking part in a Sunday morning church service may have been the target, as Mark Lobel reports

At least 16 people have been killed in a gun and bomb attack at a university in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, Nigerian Red Cross officials say.

Six others were in a serious condition following the attack at Bayero University campus where Christian worshippers were holding a service.

Police are searching for the gunmen.

No group has said it launched the attack, but the violent Islamist Boko Haram group is active in Kano and has recently attacked churches.

Nigeria's central government has struggled to contain the militant group, which operates mainly in the predominantly Muslim north, but has also struck as far south as the capital, Abuja.

Later on Sunday, there was an attack on another church in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, where Boko Haram is based.

Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire at a Church of Christ in Nigeria chapel, witnesses say.

The Kano attack took place in one of the Bayero University's lecture theatres used as a place of worship by Christians.

Analysis

Police say small explosives inside soft drink cans were used in the attack on the university campus in Kano - trademarks of of the Islamist group of Boko Haram. There are other signs pointing to them - the use of attackers on motorbikes for instance.

The attack - on an apparent Christian service at an education establishment - would match up to threats the group has made in the past. Their name Boko Haram, translated from the local Hausa language, means "Western education is forbidden". It is a good reflection on the group.

Its purported aim is to destabilise the Nigerian state. Following the failure of talks to get the group to relinquish violence, the government in Abuja has conducted a number of crackdowns. But it appears to be unable to confront the group that is attacking Nigeria on a new front almost every week.

A witness told AFP news agency the attackers had first thrown in explosives and fired shots, "causing a stampede among worshippers".

"They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."

Another witness spoke of "pandemonium", and said he had seen two men shooting indiscriminately.

Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the university, said security guards had to run for their lives when the violence broke out.

"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," he told Reuters news agency.

A Red Cross spokesman said adults - possibly professors - and three women were among the casualties. Several needed urgent blood transfusions.

Boko Haram

  • 2002: Founded in Maiduguri
  • July 2009: Hundreds of members killed when Maiduguri police stations stormed; police capture and kill sect leader Mohammed Yusuf
  • Dec 2010: Bombed Jos, killing 80 people; blamed for New Year's Eve attack on Abuja barracks
  • Jun-Aug 2011: Bomb attacks on Abuja police HQ and UN building
  • Dec 2011: Multiple bomb attacks on Christmas Day kill dozens
  • Jan 2012: Wave of violence across north-east Nigeria; Kano bombing kills at least 180

Kano state police spokesman Ibrahim Idris said that by the time police arrived, the attackers had "disappeared into the neighbourhood". A manhunt is under way.

But the situation at the university was now calm, according to the Red Cross spokesman.

Boko Haram carried out a bombing in Kano in January that killed more than 180 people, its deadliest attack to date.

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