Suicide bombers hit cellphone firms in north Nigeria



Augustine Madu | Reuters

Published — Saturday 22 December 2012

Last update 22 December 2012 6:25 pm

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KANO, Nigeria: Two suicide car bombers attacked the offices of two mobile phone operators on Saturday in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano, killing themselves but no civilians, police said.

India’s Airtel and South Africa’s MTN were the targets.

Boko Haram has previously blown up telephone masts and offices of phone companies, saying they help the security forces catch its members.

“The one who hit the Airtel office was shot by military men before the bomb exploded ... at the MTN office the car rammed into the fence but no civilians were killed,” Ibrahim Idris, the chief of police in Kano, told Reuters. Both bombs went off.

A military source said one security guard was injured and has been taken to hospital.

MTN and Airtel Nigeria’s parent company Bharti Airtel, India’s top cellphone operator, gave no immediate comment.

The national emergency agency confirmed the bombings and said it was not aware of any civilian casualties. The security forces have played down the death toll in previous bombings.

At least 2,800 people have died in fighting in the largely Muslim north since Boko Haram launched an uprising against the government in 2009, watchdog Human Rights Watch says.

The sect wants to impose strict Islamic law on a country of 160 million people. 

The group has previously targeted churches and security has been increased in all the major northern cities.

Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city after the southern commercial hub Lagos, was the site of Boko Haram’s deadliest attack which killed at least 186 people in January in coordinated bombings and shootings.

Armed police have been guarding major churches in Kano this week and additional police checkpoints have been set up around the majority-Muslim city, a Reuters witness said.

Police in Kano said this week that their anti-terrorism squads have been searching houses and buildings they suspect to be hideouts of criminals and “terrorists.” 

A French national was kidnapped in far northern Nigeria, close to the border with Niger, this week by people France’s intelligence agency said were “an organized group linked to a terrorist activity.”

 

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