Nigeria Attacks Kill up to 100إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A wave of attacks in northern Nigeria attributed to a radical Islamist group may have killed up to 100 people, police and a local rights group said Saturday.
"From reports I have been receiving from Damaturu, up to 100 people could have been killed," a senior police source in the region told Agence France Presse, while Chidi Odinkalu, head of the Open Society Justice Initiative, gave a figure of 69-100.
The two days of attacks which saw three cities rocked by explosions and gunfire were carried out by the Boko Haram group, according to a purported spokesman, Abul Qaqa, who spoke to AFP.
"We are responsible for the attacks in Maiduguri, Damaturu and Potiskum. We carried out the attacks to avenge the killings of our brothers by the security forces in 2009," he said.
"We will continue to wage war against the Nigerian state until we abolish the secular system and establish an Islamic state."
Hospital sources said earlier Saturday that 46 people had been killed.
Sporadic firing could still be heard Saturday but the situation was generally calm, local residents and security officials said.
Twenty bodies were in the morgue of the main hospital in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, staff said, with almost as many at Damaturu, in neighboring Yobe state.
"So far, we have 19 bodies at the morgue, including three soldiers, three policemen and 13 civilians. They all have gunshot wounds," said an official at Damaturu hospital.
Reports on Friday had put the death toll from the attacks at eight, but the official said this included one of the soldiers he had listed.
Yobe police chief Lawan Tanko for his part put the toll at 22, including 15 members of Boko Haram and seven policemen, plus one civilian killed in Potiskum.
He said some firing was still going in the Pompomari district of Damaturu as police mopped up, exchanging shots with the insurgents.
Yobe state governor Abdullahi Bego said peace had been restored but authorities had declared a 7:00 pm to 7:00 am curfew until further notice.
Police in the region said officers had battled the attackers, while truckloads of soldiers were also drafted in to Damaturu on Friday.
A Damaturu resident said suspected members of Boko Haram had taken to the streets on Thursday shooting and setting off explosions at random.
Residents in Maiduguri reported six explosions which sent people fleeing.
Maiduguri has borne the brunt of the violence attributed to Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks in the north as well as the August suicide bombing of U.N. headquarters in the capital Abuja that killed at least 24.
A military task force has been deployed in Maiduguri in a bid to stop the sect, but it has in turn been accused of major abuses, including shooting civilians and burning their homes in the wake of bomb attacks.
Damaturu was hit by coordinated attacks in early November claimed by Boko Haram which left some 150 people dead.
Earlier this week, blasts at a house in Damaturu rented by suspected members of the sect left one dead and several wounded.
Boko Haram launched an uprising in 2009 that was put down by a brutal military assault which left some 800 dead as well as its mosque and headquarters in Maiduguri in ruins.
It lay low for about a year before re-emerging in 2010 with a series of assassinations. Bomb blasts have since become frequent and have grown in sophistication.
There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has formed links with outside extremist groups, including al-Qaida's North African branch.
The group is believed to have a number of factions with varying aims.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with some 160 million people, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.