Horrific memories of the violence that enveloped Kano city on January 20, 2012 – when members of the Boko Haram sect carried out coordinated attacks on police formations, claiming about 200 lives – were relived Tuesday, as gunmen, suspected to be Boko Haram members, launched similar multiple raids on police formations in the state.
The coordinated attacks on Tuesday by the gunmen started at about 6pm and lasted several hours into the night, with gunshots and loud sounds of explosives renting the air as well as dark smoke rising from the affected areas.
With the knowledge of the near-battle situation that the state was plunged into on January 20 and trying to avoid being caught in deadly web of the unfolding situation, people hurriedly rushed back to their homes.
Soon, reports coming out of the areas, though scanty, pointed out that serious gun duel had ensued between the assailants and security forces. About four police stations and barracks, prison yard and a secondary school came under attack that day.
First to be targeted was Dala Police Station, which was in recent past, a constant target of many unsuccessful attacks by the gunmen.
Dozens of the assailants, it was gathered, stormed the station firing guns and throwing explosives, triggering a fierce reaction from policemen drafted to guard the place. Residents said bullets were heard flying in all directions as the battle continued, adding that the encounter subsequently increased in ferocity as personnel of the Joint Security Taskforce (JTF) returned fire.
As the fighting was going on, sounds of heavy explosions were heard several kilometers away. Sunday Trust leaned that it took the security agencies more than two hours to repel the attack and contain the station from getting out of hand.
During the January attack, a couple of police stations, in addition to the zonal police headquarters along BUK Road, were badly destroyed by suicide bombers who rammed vehicles rigged with explosives into them or set them ablaze.
Police stations like ‘Yar Akwa, Farm Centre and Sharada have all suffered the wrath, prompting police authorities to highten security checks around all police posts in the state, with some measures requiring whole streets completely blocked or partially barricaded.
Even with that, police stations like Mandawari and Dala, had been coming under serious attacks, until the one on Tuesday. Similarly, since the January attack, many policemen and other security agents have fallen victims of continuous targeted killings by suspected gunmen, forcing the officers to relocate to places considered safer.
For instance, a retired police DIG, a customs officer and an SSS personnel were targeted and killed and Boko Haram had claimed responsibility in various parts of the state within the last two weeks.
The state police command said it lost one police officer in the attack, adding while one was injured. Residents informed our correspondent that following the attack, security men cordoned off the neighbourhood searching houses. “They entered my house and asked of the head and other male occupants, but they were told I went out and they left,” said a resident who does not want to be named.
“A man was shot in the head right in front of my house. The security came and evacuated the body the following day, but if you come now you will see his brain tissues all over the place,” he said.
While briefing newsmen on the encounter, Kano Police Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim K Idris, said about 30 “insurgents” carried out the attack at Dala, explaining that his men were able to kill 10 of them and pushed back the rest after a serious gun duel.
He said the gunmen abandoned a Volkswagen Golf car, a bus containing large quantity of drugs and syringes and a Toyota Corolla carrying N100,000. Other items recovered from the abandoned car included 10 undetonated explosives and more drugs, which the police said were meant for First Aid.
“Also recovered from the assailants were three AK-47 rifles, eight magazines with hundreds of live ammunitions. Three suspects were arrested,” said Idris.
Few minutes after the attack on Dala Police Station, more attacks were reported at Jakara Police outpost and Goron Dutse Prison yard, the second largest detention facility in the state. Police said two of the attackers, who threw Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at the ‘disused’ outpost were killed by guards on duty at a nearby police barracks.
Similarly, the attack on the Goron Dutse Prison yard was said to have been foiled.
The same night, gunmen staged other attacks with rifles and explosives at Panshekara Police Station, 52 Mobile Police Force Squadron and Junior Secondary School Sabuwar Doka in Ungogo Local Government Area.
A female resident of Panshekara told our correspondent that during the attack sounds of explosives and gunshots rent the air as though they were being fired close to her room. “It was as if bullets were hitting on our roofs,” she said.
The multiple attacks compelled many residents to return to their homes earlier than usual, throughout Kano city.
Security agents in the state have held the Tuesday encounter as the most successful of all their operations against gunmen in the state in recent times, although fears were entertained by residents that some of the 17 persons killed could have included innocent passers-by.
Also security forces in the state have attributed Tuesday’s coordinated attacks on police formations to an attempt by the gunmen to acquire arms and ammunitions.
In a statement through its spokesperson, Lt Ikedichi Iweha, JTF said the attack was in the fashion of the one on January 20. “Multiple Improvised Explosive Devices were detonated by members of the terrorist sect at Goron Dutse and Dala general areas of Kano akin to the 20 January 2012 attacks in the state, said Iweha.”
He further explained that “the terrorist elements eventually gained access to the Dala Police Division outpost where they killed a Police Corporal and were about to loot the arms store of the Police division before the swift response of security forces.”
He said the attackers had intended to break into the Goron Dutse prison as was the case recently in Yobe State. “You would recollect that a couple of days ago, members of the terrorist sect staged a prison break in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State where about forty inmates were freed. As efforts are on to track the fleeing inmates, another situation was averted by the swift response of the JTF in Kano yesterday as the JTF believes that the intent of the terrorists was to first destabilize the closest reinforcement to the Goron Dutse prisons and then storm the prison for a possible break. This attempt was frustrated by the JTF.
“This latest incident once again revealed that members of the sect would stop at nothing to destabilize the peace of the state and commercial activities which are slowly picking up.
All efforts must collectively be on deck to root out these terrorists. The JTF once again thanked the good people of Kano state for the cooperation it has been receiving from them. The JTF urges the general public to continue to cooperate with it in the area of providing information on suspicious persons within the communities and to remain vigilant to apprehend terrorists who may be lurking around to drop IEDs. It will be recalled that some suspected terrorist gang had attempted to destabilize Kano went it planted IED in a mosque in Fagge just before last Friday’s prayers with the intent of suspected religious conflicts between the adherents of Islamd and Christianity thereby achieving their aim of destabilizing the state.