By Heather Murdock
An attack on a university campus has killed at least 15 people and injured many others in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. The attack appears to have targeted a morning Christian worship service.
Emergency service personnel say they heard three bombs, followed by gunshots, but by noon they were still not allowed on the scene. Later in the day, as casualty reports trickled in, witnesses said gunmen had attacked a church service with small explosives, shooting people as they tried to flee.
Police say the attackers fled on motorcycles before security personnel arrived on the scene.
This comes after nine were killed in an attack on media houses Thursday in Abuja and Kaduna. An Islamist militant sect known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying the media had issued false reports about the group’s plans and activities.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says the government is doing all it can to fight the group that is believed to be responsible for more than 1,000 deaths since it began attacks in 2009. In January, coordinated bombings in Kano killed nearly 200 people, and crippled the city’s economy.
In recent months, President Jonathan has been actively seeking foreign logistical assistance to combat the group, especially from the West. On Saturday, he condemned the group as he visited the site of one of Thursday’s bombings.
“A terror attack on any part of the country is an attack on all of us, and indeed the whole world because terrorists’ method is to ensure they have maximum damage, so the whole world will begin to look at their direction for relevance,” he added.
U.S. lawmakers are considering naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, which could move more American resources to Nigeria.
Many Nigerians have criticized the Jonathan government for being unable to stop Boko Haram, including the country’s national security adviser who suggested the ruling party is partially to blame for the security crisis.
Adam Yusuf is a cook who left his wife and five children in Kano to work in the capital, but he says he is constantly afraid for his family. Like many Nigerians, he says the government needs to find out what Boko Haram wants and negotiate, rather than trying to fight.
“Call them together and negotiate what they need,” said Yusuf . “Why are they doing so? Because of what? It is simple because fight[ing] cannot solve the problem. Dialogue.”
Boko Haram says its goals are to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, and procure the release of all imprisoned members. But Yusuf says no one really knows what they want.