KANO, Nigeria (AFP) – Boko Haram insurgents have been blamed after at least 13 people died during a shoot-out between police and suspected suicide bombers at a teacher training college in northern Nigeria on Wednesday.
Kano State police commissioner Adelere Shinaba said the “insurgents”, ran into the Federal College of Education after exchanging fire with police outside the grounds.
Most of the victims were in a lecture hall inside the Kano college, where the two gunmen opened fire on students.
One student who was having lunch nearby and asked not to be identified, said he saw the gunmen, dressed in black, and heard them shouting for all female students to lie face down.
“They were saying (in pidgin English), ‘No be you say Boko Haram no they exist’ (Is it not you who say Boko Haram doesn’t exist?),” he added.
As shooting started, police opened fire and the explosives vest of one of the gunmen detonated. The other was shot dead, according to Shinaba.
The blast shattered glass and brought down the ceiling in the room, while pools of blood and the remains of the bomber could be seen, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
“They were obviously suicide bombers,” said Shinaba. “One of our officers shot at one of the gunmen and the explosives on him went off, killing him on the spot,” he told AFP.
“Another gunman was also killed. Thirteen people were killed by the gunmen and 34 others have been taken to hospital with injuries.”
Police recovered explosives and two Kalashnikov assault weapons, he added.
President Goodluck Jonathan extended his condolences to the victims’ families after what he called a “dastardly attack”.
Educational establishments in Kano – the commercial capital of the north and a centre of Islamic scholarship dating back centuries – have been hit several times in recent months.
On July 30, a female suicide bomber killed six people after detonating her explosives at a notice board on the campus of the Kano Polytechnic College while students were crowded around it.
The attack was the fourth by a female bomber in the city in a week and prompted the authorities to cancel celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.
The bombings were linked to Boko Haram, the extremist insurgent group opposed to so-called “Western education” that has been waging a deadly five-year insurgency in Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north.
The latest incident came a day after the Emir of Kano, Nigeria’s second-highest Muslim leader, gave his first interview since his appointment in June and called for action against militancy.
Muhammad Sanusi II, who as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said more investment was needed in the conflict-ridden north to prevent radicalisation.
“As long as people are gainfully employed, they’re not likely to jump onto the bandwagon of insurgency,” he told BBC television.
Nigeria’s military are under pressure to crush the insurgency after Boko Haram seized territory in the far northeast in recent weeks, declaring one captured town part of an Islamic caliphate.