At least 100 dead after Islamists launch attack on Nigerian mosque

A second attack was thwarted when a police bomb squad defused up to six explosive devices

More than 100 people are feared to have died in a terrorist attack on a mosque in the north of Nigeria believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram.

At least 81 people died, according to staff at two hospitals, but other reports put the number of fatalities closer to 120 with a further 400 people injured.

A second attack was thwarted when a police bomb squad defused up to six  explosive devices that had been planted near a mosque and a market in the north eastern city of Maiduguri, the scene of a double suicide attack on a market place earlier in the week.

Worshippers in the city of Kano were killed by up to three bombs which exploded simultaneously in or close to the central mosque before terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons.

Those behind the attack have yet to be identified but observers said it bore the hallmarks of the extremist Islamic group Boko Haram.

The mosque targeted in the deadly attack last night is next to the palace of the  emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, who is the second highest Islamic authority in Nigeria and recently spoke out against Boko Haram during a sermon.

He usually leads the prayers at the mosque but was said to be out of the country when the bombs went off.

“These people have bombed the mosque. I am face to face with people screaming,” said Chijjani Usman, a reporter who had gone to the mosque in the old city to pray.

A witness told the BBC: “The imam was about to start prayer when he saw somebody in a car trying to force his way into the mosque. But when people stopped him, he detonated the explosions. People started running helter-skelter.”

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack and urged Nigerians to “remain united to confront the common enemy”. He promised that every possible step would be taken “to put an end to the reprehensible acts of all groups and persons involved in acts of terrorism”.

Shortly after the attack, hundreds of angry youths took to the streets wielding sticks, throwing stones and hurling abuse at security officials in a sign of growing frustration at the government’s failure to deal with the threat posed by Boko Haram.

There were reports that some of the dead  were killed when security forces opened fire to disperse protesters.

Militants from the Sunni group have killed more than 2,000 people this year in attacks on a variety of targets including police stations, churches, military bases, government buildings and mosques.

The group regards many of Nigeria’s mosques as legitimate targets because it considers the religious authorities to be a corrupt elite that is too close to the secular rulers.

Meanwhile, three expatriate construction workers were kidnapped yesterday in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state in  the delta region, a security forces spokesman added.

The men, two Pakistani and one Indian, were seized at Emakalakala town in the Ogbia  council area.

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