Abuja: An Indian was among 162 people killed as heavily armed Islamists carried out a deadly Mumbai-style terror attack in Nigeria’s second largest city Kano, media reports and Indian officials said Sunday.
Six other Indians, including two children, were wounded and panic gripped the Indian community as a small group of terrorists stormed Kano, split themselves into smaller groups and went on a killing spree Friday evening.
Kevalkumar Kalidas Rajput, 23, who hailed from Gujarat and worked for Kano-based company Relchem since March 2011, was killed, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria said.
He and two Nepali colleagues Hari Prasad Bhusal and Raj Singh died when their car apparently entered a scene of hostilities, the mission said in a statement.
The six Indians from two families were injured because of falling shrapnel and debris. They were taken to hospitals.
Although uneasy calm returned to Kano Sunday, the city of nine million was devastated. Smoke still billowed from buildings that caught fire after being bomb attacked.
The well-planned savagery was blamed on an Islamist group with known ties with Al Qaeda. It targeted security forces in Kano in northern Nigeria.
The main targets were government sites including police stations, the passport office, the state security headquarter and the immigration office — all symbols of authority in religiously-divided Nigeria.
The Indian community in Nigeria is estimated to be 35,000-strong. Most Indians in the country are well-off and enjoy non-controversial existence.
Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. Bilateral annual trade exceeded $8.7 billion in 2009-10.
Ashish Kumar Verma, an Indian, told Times Now from Kano that the attackers were about 20 in number and “targetted different places in the city”.
“They blew up police headquarter, passport office… also attacked the IG house,” he said. He said Indians were trying to get out of Kano.
Another Indian, T. Pragnesh, too spoke of the horror. He said the Indian Association in Kano was trying to determine if more people had been killed or wounded.
“We have 162 bodies in the morgue,” a visibly distraught official said at Kano’s main morgue.
The wounded included foreigners from an area home to many expatriates, particularly Lebanese and Indians.
BBC reported that hospitals were overwhelmed with the dead and injured.
The attack left Kano residents terrorized and shocked, some of whom wandered the streets to look for loved ones. Many refused to leave their homes fearing more attacks.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen next, no one thought this would ever happen here. There’s despair,” said Faruk Mohammed.
CNN quoted him as saying that there were at least 25 explosions. “Then it went deathly quiet.”
A 24-hour curfew was declared in Kano, where search and rescue operations were underway for the killers.
Nigeria closed its borders with neighbouring Cameroon and Niger, claiming these countries allowed the militants to move freely into Nigeria, reported RIA Novosti.
Boko Haram, the group behind the attack, has been seeking to impose Sharia law in Nigeria, divided into dominantly Christian south and a largely Muslim north.
Boko Haram colloquially translates into “Western education is sin”.
It was formed in 2002 by preacher Mohammad Yusuf. In 2009, Yusuf was arrested and died in police custody. The death led the group to begin its attacks on police stations.
Boko Haram spokesperson Abul Qaqa said the attacks were in response to the refusal of the Kano state government to release fellow terrorists who had been arrested.
Hundreds of Nigerian troops have been deployed at major streets in Kano to enhance security, reported Xinhua.
President Goodluck Jonathan said that the perpetrators would “face the full wrath of the law”.