Suicide bombers attack MTN Nigeria

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Kano, Nigeria - Two suspected suicide car bombers blew themselves up in coordinated attacks Saturday on two major telecoms companies in the volatile northern Nigerian city of Kano, officials said, but no other deaths were reported.

One of the attackers blew himself up when he rammed his car into the gate of an Airtel mobile phone company building, setting it ablaze. The second died when his car exploded outside the office of MTN, Nigeria's largest mobile phone operator, police and the army said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in Kano, the largest city in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, and no reports of any civilian deaths.

The Islamist sect Boko Haram - notorious for shootings and bomb attacks across north and central Nigeria - has in the past targeted phone companies, accusing them of cooperating with the security services.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement there were “coordinated attacks by suicide bombers at facilities of two telecom operators in separate locations in Kano municipality”.

A Kano policeman who requested anonymity confirmed the Airtel attack.

“The bomber rammed his car into the gate and blew himself up. The building is on fire,” he said.

Airtel worker Bayo Osho said his leg was injured in the blast.

“A car rammed into the gate and forced its way into the premises. The car hit me on the leg and flung me into a corner before it exploded. I was dragged out and taken to the hospital by soldiers outside the gate,” he told AFP at the hospital where he was taken for treatment.

Security agents cordoned off the scene while firefighters battled to put out the fire, a senior Kano state emergency agency official, Abubakar Jibril, told AFP.

Officials from Airtel, one of the three biggest mobile phone service providers in Nigeria, were unavailable for comment.

In the second incident, a suspected bomber was blown up when his car exploded outside the gate of an MTN office which coordinates the company's mobile telephone services in about a dozen states in the north, army spokesman Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi said

No other casualties were recorded in the attack, he added.

Kano was the scene of Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet in January, when at least 185 people were killed in coordinated bombings and shootings.

Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead in Nigeria - Africa's most populous state and largest oil producer - since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

Bako Haram is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs that carry out violence under the guise of the group.

Its targets have included Christian churches as well as symbols of the establishment including police. -Sapa-AFP


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