Youths Overrun Bombed North Nigeria Police Station

Published January 25, 2012 12:54PM (EST)

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Jubilant youths overran a blood-splattered police station on Wednesday after it was attacked by a radical Islamist sect, revealing a streak of popular discontent with a government that many say has failed them in Africa's most populous nation.

Suspected members of Boko Haram surrounded the police station Tuesday night in Kano, ordered civilians to get off the street, began chanting "God is great" and threw homemade bombs into the station while spraying it with assault rifles, witnesses said. The attack followed coordinated assaults on Friday that killed at least 185 people in Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city.

Associated Press journalists on Wednesday saw that youths had overrun the bombed-out station in the Sheka neighborhood of this sprawling city in northern Nigeria.

Doors to jail cells stood open. Blood coated the floor of the local commander's private bathroom. Investigative files that had apparently been rifled through were spilled on the floors. Cheering youths outside waved an officer's uniform and jumped up and down on top of a burned-out police truck, with one wearing a police ballistic helmet, smiling.

Others in the crowd said in the local Hausa language they would kill any police officer who returned. Some ominously asked journalists visiting the site if they were Christians.

"We are not satisfied with what is happening now," said 26-year-old Abubakar Muawuya. Our leaders "have to call this Boko Haram and sit down with them."

Kano state police spokesman Magaji Musa Majiya did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though it followed the pattern of others carried out by Boko Haram, including the use of improvised explosives.

The sect, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in Hausa, has claimed responsibility for Friday coordinated attacks in Kano.

Boko Haram wants to implement strict Shariah law and avenge the deaths of Muslims in communal violence across Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people split largely into a Christian south and Muslim north.

On Wednesday, Niger's foreign minister said the sect received training and weapons from al-Qaida's North African wing.

Mohamed Bazoum said in Mauritania's capital that members of Boko Haram have had training and received explosives from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

"There is no doubt the two organizations are connected and that they have the same objective of destabilizing our region," he said.

Ministers from the West African region met Wednesday in Mauritania, and vowed to intensify their efforts against the groups.

While Boko Haram has begun targeting Christians in the north, most of those killed Friday appeared to be Muslim, officials said.

Nigeria's weak and corruption-riddled central government has been unable to stop Boko Haram's increasingly bloody attacks.

Nigeria is an oil-rich nation but most Nigerians don't see the benefits and earn less than $2 a day. They have to contend with a rotting infrastructure like bad roads and a lack of electrical power, and seeming government indifference to the problems. The level of anger is high as democracy in a nation with a history of military rule has failed to markedly improve people's lives.

When President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 1 ended a fuel subsidy that kept prices at the pump low, unions launched a nationwide strike and streets of cities filled with protesters, forcing the president to partially reinstate the subsidy.


Associated Press writer Ahmed Mohamed in Nouakchott, Mauritania, contributed to this report.


Jon Gambrell can be reached at

By Salon Staff

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