Gunmen fire on Nigeria cattle market, 56 dead-nurse
Thu May 3, 2012 2:09pm GMT
* Witness sees bodies strewn around market
* Police commissioner says 34 killed, suspects Boko Haram (Recasts with new
death toll, details)
By Ibrahim Mshelizza and Mike Oboh
MAIDUGURI/ABUJA, May 3 (Reuters) - Gunmen set off explosives and fired on a
cattle market in remote northeastern Nigeria overnight, killing at least 56
people, a nurse who received bodies in the local hospital said on Thursday.
The police commissioner put the number of dead at 34.
It was not clear who was behind the attack on Wednesday night in the town of
Potiskum, in Yobe state, which has been an occasional target for militant
Islamist sect Boko Haram.
"I have counted 56 bodies at the morgue and I am sure that the death toll
could rise in view of the serious nature of injuries sustained," the nurse
at Potiskum hospital, who gave his name as Babangida, said.
"The Potiskum mortuary is made up of a room and a parlour and I counted the
56 in the parlour only. I didn't go into the inner room."
Police Commissioner Moses Namiri said security forces had confirmed 34
killed and that Islamist sect Boko Haram was suspected to be behind the
"Everybody knows the modus operandi of BH (Boko Haram): they threw
explosives and used guns," he said. "The gunfire lasted for almost an hour."
Witness Mama Yusuf, a retired civil servant, said there were dead bodies on
the ground, though he could not say how many.
"I saw dead bodies all around the place and the emergency services taking
people to hospitals," he said.
Boko Haram has been fighting a low-level insurgency for more than two years
and has become the main security threat facing Africa's top oil producer,
although it is far from any oil producing facilities.
It usually targets police or authority figures, and although civilians have
increasingly borne the brunt of its attacks, they are normally targeted for
being a perceived enemy of the group, such as Christians, rather than being
Sometimes violence in Nigeria, especially in parts of the north or the
volatile Middle Belt - where the largely Christian south and Muslim north
meet - is driven by ethnic rivalry over land and resources that has little
to do with the Boko Haram attacks.
Boko Haram, which wants to impose an Islamic state on Nigeria's mixed
population of Muslims and Christians, has been blamed for hundreds of
killings since its uprising against the government began in 2009.
A spate of attacks in the past few days, including one against Christians in
the north that killed 19 people on Sunday, have dampened hopes that tighter
security had significantly reduced the sect's capability.
Nigerian forces killed the suspected mastermind of Sunday's attack on
Christian worshippers, in a raid in the main northern city of Kano on
Tuesday that resulted in a gun battle lasting several hours. (Writing by Tim
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Thu May 03 2012 - 11:48:28 EDT