Kano: The emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, on Saturday said Nigeria`s Muslims will not be intimidated into abandoning Islam following coordinated attacks on the city`s central mosque that claimed at least 120 lives.
"We will never be intimidated into abandoning our religion, which is the intention of the attackers," the emir said during a 20-minute visit to the mosque shortly after his return to the country.
The mosque, built in the 1490s along with the adjoining palace, was remodelled in the 1940s.
Sanusi was out of Nigeria on Friday when the deadly assault on the mosque occurred.
Last week, the emir -- the country`s second most senior Muslim cleric -- made a call at the same mosque urging civilians to take up arms against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
But during his visit, he implicitly dismissed widespread speculation that the attack was in retaliation for that call.
"From all indications, they (attackers) have been planning this for at least two months," Sanusi said in Hausa, the dominant language of northern Nigeria.
The powerful Islamic cleric is regarded as the custodian of the religion and tradition of Muslims in Kano.
He is seen as a spiritual leader whose authority and pronouncements on religious matters must be adhered to strictly.
Pieces of flesh, blood splatters, broken floor tiles, abandoned footwear and prayer mats littered the mosque when the emir visited the site.Bloodstains were also noticeable at the entrance and on the walls of the sprawling sanctuary. The bomb blasts had left gaping holes in the ceiling.
"I have directed that the mosque be washed and cleaned and prayers should continue here," Sanusi said.
He did comment on the victims of the attack.
The emir later returned and led the 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) prayers at the mosque, his aides said.
Earlier, hundreds of residents and faithful thronged the outside of the mosque, gaping at the carcasses of dozens of burnt motorcycles and cars scattered around the area.
A senior rescue official late Friday gave AFP a preliminary death toll of 120.
The official also said that at least 270 people were wounded in the attack, which saw two suicide bombers blow themselves up and gunmen opening fire during weekly prayers in Kano, the biggest city in the mainly Muslim north of the country.
Kano State acting police chief Sanusi Lemu told journalists that the enraged mob killed three of the attackers instantly.
He did not elaborate.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Saturday to hunt down those behind the "heinous" attack.
A statement from his office said he had "directed the security agencies to launch a full-scale investigation and to leave no stone unturned until all agents of terror ... are tracked down and brought to justice".
He urged Nigerians "not to despair in this moment of great trial in our nation`s history but to remain united to confront the common enemy," the statement said.
More than 13,000 people are thought to have died since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009.