ABUJA: A 23-year-old Indian national was killed and six of his compatriots, including two children, were injured in a wave of coordinated bombings and gun attacks by an Islamic sect that left at least 162 people dead in northern Nigeria’s largest city of Kano.
Kevalkumar Kalidas Rajput from Dahod in Gujarat, who worked for Kano-based firm M/s Relchem, was among those killed in Friday’s deadly attacks, a statement issued by the High Commission of India in Nigeria said today. It said Rajput and two of his co-employees from Nepal, Hari Prasad Bhusal and Raj Singh, lost their lives when their car entered a zone of hostilities.
The High Commission said six other Indian nationals, including two small children, belonging to two families have received injuries from falling shrapnel and debris and are being treated in Kano hospitals.
On Friday, militants shot at residents and security personnel and bombed security services offices in Kano, the second most populated city in Nigeria.
In New Delhi, the External Affairs Minister, Mr S M Krishna condemned the deadly attacks in Kano and regretted the “unfortunate” loss of life. The families of the Indian killed and those injured in the attacks have been contacted by authorities.
Hospital sources in Nigeria said 162 bodies were piled up in a mortuary at Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital in Kano a day after the attacks, which were claimed to have been carried out by Islamic sect Boko Haram which is seeking imposition of ‘Sharia’ law in the country.
They added that the number of the dead may increase because more bodies are being brought in from different parts of the city
An official of the Red Cross, Mr Nwakpa O Nwakpa, said his aid agency is still collecting the bodies and taking the injured to emergency units of some hospitals.
A doctor at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital said some of the injured brought to the medical facility were foreigners, including Indians who live close to the SSS headquarters.
Police were yet to come up with an official death toll and calls made to its spokesman Olusola Amore were not picked. Authorities in the oil-rich African country are known to downplay death tolls during terror attacks and emergencies.
The Governor of Kano State, Mr Rabiu Kwankwaso, had imposed a 24-hour curfew after bodies were found scattered all over the commercial city which doubles as the state capital.
Military men were seen putting up check points at various parts of the city. Authorities said militants, some of whom were suicide bombers, targeted four police stations, the headquarters of the country’s secret police, state security service (SSS) in Kano state and an immigration office.
A police source said he was yet to confirm the nationalities of a few dead persons confirmed to be foreigners.
The bombings, which numbered up to 20, caused pandemonium in the metropolis and were followed by shoot-outs between the militants and security agencies especially at the eastern Bompai district of the city.
Residents, who heard the sound of the bombs with smokes billowing out of the police building, scampered for safety.
“Some policemen who survived the attack were seen at the premises of Zone one police station dirtied with dusts from the rubble while the dismembered body of a suicide bomber lay at the premises,” a witness said. Their patrol vehicle was accosted by a suicide bomber who tried to jump on them but was fired at by the officers.
Enenche Akogwu, a reporter for a local TV known as ‘Channels’, was among those killed in the attacks, the station announced.
A spokesman of Boko Haram, Mr Abul Qaqa, said his group was responsible for the attacks. He said they carried out the attacks because the government had refused to release members of the group held at various prisons in Kano.
Boko Haram sect has been waging a bloody conflict to install an Islamic government and Sharia rule in the country.
A suicide bombing by the group at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in July last year had killed 26 persons.
Condemning the multiple bombings in Kano, the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon said the frequency of attacks in the West African country demonstrated “unacceptable disregard” for human life.
“The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the multiple attacks that have taken place across the northern Nigerian city of Kano, causing large-scale casualties and massive destruction to property,” a statement from his spokesperson said in New York.
It said Ban was “appalled” at the frequency and intensity of recent attacks in Nigeria, which demonstrated “a wanton and unacceptable disregard for human life.”
Recently, the Nigerian President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan had imposed curfew in some states of the country’s Muslim-dominated north because of the activities of this militant group, but Kano State was not among those areas.
Activities of Boko Haram has raised fears of religious conflict in the country, especially after the Christmas Day attacks that killed at least 40 persons in a church and several others parts of the north.
Nigeria has a population of 150 million, with Muslims predominant in the north while Christians mostly live in the South.