Nigeria's worst terror incident claims nearly 200 lives

The death toll from gun and bomb attacks in the northern Nigerian city of Kano has risen to at least 178, according to an official source at the city's principal hospital. So far, this is the deadliest attack attributed to the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist organization. The count is not yet finished: more bodies are yet to be brought in. Boko Haram claimed responsbility for the January 20 attacks in which several bombs were detonated. So far, the Muslim sect has killed hundreds in the northern region of Africa's most populous and most oil-rich nation. On Christmas Day 2011, bombs were detonated outside of Christian churches killing 20.  

Boko Haram's attacks prompted the government to announce a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city of more than 10 million people. Kano and other northern cities have been plagued by Boko Haram, which is blamed for scores of bombings and killings in the Muslim dominated north. The main oil-producing facilities are located to the south, however. The January 20 attacks occured at police stations, and showed growing scale and sophistication.

More explosions rocked the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi on January 22. One church was destroyed completely, and another was seriously damaged. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The explosions were heard at approximately 2 AM local time. 

 Boko Haram became active around 2003 and is concentrated in the northern states of Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna. The sect's name comes from Hausa, a Nigerian language. It's meaning is "Western education is sinful", is loosely modelled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. The group has been linked in the past to Al-Qaeda. The sect originally said it wanted sharia, Islamic law, to be applied more widely across Africa's most populous nation. Recent messages from its leaders have said it is attacking anyone who opposes it, at present mainly police, government and Christian groups. It recently demanded that all Christians should leave northern Nigeria, or face retribution. Following the bombings in Kano on January 20, hundreds of Christians began to flee. 

 A bomb attack on a Catholic church just outside the capital Abuja on Christmas Day, claimed by Boko Haram, killed 37 people and wounded 57.  The main suspect in that attack, Kabiru Sokoto, escaped from police within 24 hours of arrest. Authorities have offered a 50 million naira (€240,000) in reward money for information leading to his arrest.
 



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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