Kano: Gunmen suspected of being members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram attacked a police station in Nigeria's Kano state on Friday, police and witnesses said, leading to more than an hour of running gun battles.
Kano state and its capital city of 10 million people have been under siege in the past few weeks by gunmen from the militant sect, which wants to impose sharia law across Nigeria.
"Gunmen attacked Mandwari police station this evening. The gunfire between them and the police was really bad, but nobody knows the casualties just yet," said witness Mohammed Sorondikin. "People were scrambling for safety."
A police source confirmed the incident but said there would be no public statement until all the details were known.
Boko Haram's attacks have become more sophisticated and deadly in recent weeks in Africa's top oil producer. A series of gun and bomb attacks, mostly on police stations, killed 186 people in Kano, Nigeria's second city, last Friday.
Most of the victims were civilians shot dead by the sect, witnesses and police said.
In an audio tape posted on the Internet on Thursday, the purported leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to kill more security personnel and kidnap their families, and accused US President Barack Obama of waging war on Islam.
He denied that the group had been responsible for most of the civilian casualties in last Friday's attack on Kano, the group's deadliest so far.
Boko Haram, a movement loosely modelled on the Afghan Taliban whose name translates as "Western education is sinful", has been behind almost daily killings in its home base in the largely Muslim northeast. Its violence has spread west into other parts of the north and the capital Abuja since last year.
First Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012, 14:36