A Nigerian Islamic militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for four bombings today in the northern city of Kano, according to the Associated Press.
The bombs went off today near police stations, causing mayhem in the streets, fires and damaging buildings. It is still unclear if there were casualties, the wire service reports. The BBC says that gunshots were heard after the blasts, which targeted police headquarters and an immigration office.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” has been carrying out increasingly sophisticated attacks since 2009. Early this year, the group ordered Christians in the mostly-Muslim north to flee the area, and is believed to be responsible for almost 600 deaths since the beginning of 2011. Last summer, the group bombed UN headquarters in Nigeria, killing 25 people.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan claims the group has infiltrated security forces and government agencies, allowing them to carry out near-daily attacks in provinces operating under a state of emergency.
Earlier this week Kabiru Sokoto, a suspected Boko Haram leader thought to be behind the Christmas Day church bombings that killed dozens of people was arrested, escaping custody the next day. Local officials said, “it would not be surprising” if Boko Haram had infiltrated law enforcement.
Under the direction of the federal government, the Nigerian police inspector has issued a $300,000 reward for information that leads to the re-arrest of Sokoto. Police spokesperson Olusola Amore spoke to Voice of America, saying they have re-doubled efforts to catch Sokoto:
“We have [sent] information to all members of the West African police organizations, and all members of the Nigeria police and other security agencies have been alerted all around the country. And they are watching closely the borders while efforts are on to try to get Kabiru.”
Meanwhile in southern Nigeria, gunmen are demanding the same sum, about $300,000, after kidnapping an American oil worker. Reuters reports that the victim, and employee of Marubeni Corp in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, was grabbed earlier today, and his driver was murdered. Spokesperson for the Delta Police Command, Charles Muka, told the agency:
"They killed his police escort and forcefully took him away from the car. He was going to the bank when the attack occurred.”