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Nigeria attacks may point to more emboldened Boko Haram militants

January 25, 2012 |  3:55 pm

A police bomb disposal expert in Kano, Nigeria, packs defused bombs made from soda cans.
REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- The overnight attack on a police station in the Nigerian city of Kano by suspected members of the militant group Boko Haram may indicate how emboldened the group has become.

Just days after at least 185 people were killed in coordinated bomb attacks in the northern city, assailants surrounded one of several police stations that had been bombed Friday, firing guns, throwing primitive bombs made of soda cans and shouting "God is great!" The attack began late Tuesday and continued early Wednesday, according to news agencies.

Cheering youths reportedly stood outside the police station after the attack, with some threatening to kill any officers who tried to return. Inside, police files were scattered across the floor. 

The attack suggested that Boko Haram may be more entrenched and widespread than was previously believed in Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city and the most important in the predominantly Muslim north.

With deep northern disenchantment with the central government, and anger about the north's perceived economic marginalization, unemployed youths in this sprawling city make for easy recruits for the group.

In addition, Boko Haram's tactics have grown more sophisticated and its use of suicide bombers have claimed more casualties. U.S. military officials have expressed concern that the group has received training from Al Qaeda affiliates.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Mohammed Bazoun told journalists Wednesday that Boko Haram had received training, weapons and explosives from Al Qaeda's North African wing. The two groups share the objective of destabilizing the region, Bazoun said.

After Friday's attack, police said they had found hundreds of bombs in different parts of Kano.

On Wednesday, President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed federal police chief Hafiz Ringim.


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Photo: A police bomb disposal expert in Kano, Nigeria, packs defused home-made bombs made from soft drink cans  on Jan. 24, 2012. Credit: Aminu Abubakar / AFP/Getty Images