Two series of explosions rocked Nigeria’s second city of Kano on Monday night, killing at least six people and sparking off panic in a neighbourhood previously targeted by Boko Haram Islamists.
The Sabon Gari area of Kano, where four blasts were reported, is full of outdoor bars and eateries and known for its bustling nightlife. Sabo Gari, which literally means visitors quarters has a high concentration of christian elements from the Southern parts of Nigeria.
“We have had some explosions in Sabon Gari this evening. The explosions happened at open-air beer parlours, where people were playing snooker,” Kano State Police Commissioner Musa Daura reported.
“I can confirm six dead and six others injured,” he said, adding that the cause of the blasts was not yet known.
The blame was likely to fall on Boko Haram, the insurgent group which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
Residents described the area as being littered with the personal belonging of those who ran in fear once the explosions began.
“There is confusion all over the place,” said Chinyere Madu, a fruit vendor. “There were four huge explosions, so huge that they shook the whole area. Everywhere is enveloped in smoke and dust.”
She reported that the scene was too chaotic to assess the extent of the damage, but said she “saw one person carrying someone on his shoulders with bleeding legs.”
“My house is not far from there,” resident Kola Oyebanji told AFP. “All my windows are shattered.”
Idika Tobias, who also lives in the area, told AFP he had visited the blast site and stood amid a “litter of personal effects left behind by people fleeing the area.”
“Shoes, bags, cellphones” and other items were scattered around, he explained.
A small church sandwiched between two bars was among the targets,Tobias added.
Another resident who requested anonymity said he heard gunshots ring out after the series of explosions.
Soldiers were reported to have cordoned off the area.
Boko Haram, which has carried out waves of bombings across northern Nigeria, was blamed for coordinated suicide blasts at a bus park in Sabon Gari in March that killed at least 41 people.
Kano has been among the cities hardest hit during Boko Haram’s insurgency, even if in recent months it had seen a lull in attacks.
Following a massive coordinated gun and bomb assault in January of 2012 that killed at least 185 people, security forces blanketed the city, setting up checkpoints at many roundabouts and intersections.
Nigeria launched a sweeping offensive against Boko Haram in May, specifically targeting three states to the east of Kano.
Since then, the security forces have claimed huge gains against the insurgents, insisting that they have put them on the defensive.
Attacks eased after the offensive was launched but the bloodshed has persisted in some areas.
At least three schools have been attacked in north-eastern Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram members.
Over the weekend, clashes between a vigilante group and Boko Haram members left at least 20 people dead in the village of Dawashe in Borno state.
The insurgency is estimated to have claimed more than 3,600 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Aside from churches and other targets linked to the Christian community, Boko Haram has attacked the security forces, Muslim clerics and various symbols of authority.
The government has tried to explore an amnesty offer to the Islamists, but Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has so far showed no interest in dialogue.
But the group is believed to be made up of various different factions, with Shekau leading the most extreme, hardcore Islamist cell.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and top oil producer, roughly divided between a mostly Christian south and predominately Muslim north.
Report has it that the recovery process is still ongoing., we expect to recover more bodies.