Nigerian police foiled fresh attacks in the northern city of Kano Monday, discovering eight bomb-laden cars and over 100 unexploded devices around sites attacked last week.
Clerics meantime said peace prayers after the attacks that killed over 178 people in the country’s second-largest city and stoked fresh fears of an all-out civil war in Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer.
President Goodluck Jonathan, facing the worst crisis of his nine-month tenure as he grapples with a surge in attacks by the Islamist sect Boko Haram and mounting social discontent, vowed to beef up security.
Kano was left reeling after bombs were set off and gun battles raged in a wave of coordinated attacks after Friday prayers that targeted mainly police buildings.
“So far we have discovered over 100 home-made bombs in the operation we have launched in bomb recovery in different parts of the city,” said a senior police official on condition of anonymity.
He said “lots of the unexploded bombs were recovered around the police headquarters” which was one of the targets struck in the deadly Friday attacks.
Earlier Monday police said they found eight explosive-laden cars abandoned by road sides across the city, including one near a police station and another in a market in a densely-populated area of the city.
About 200 Muslim clerics and political leaders offered peace prayers in Kano, an ancient holy Muslim city of about 4.5 million people.
“I will pray to God that we should never re-live the catastrophe that resulted in the deaths and maiming in our city,” Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said.
Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka appealed to fellow Nigerians to eschew reprisals in the face of the deadly attacks.
“We must not accept the agenda of Boko Haram. Do not consider reprisals, protect your neighbors” Soyinka said. “They (Boko Haram) want... to embark on a program where neighbors will turn against neighbors.”
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban.
The sect focuses its attacks mostly on the police, military and government, but has attacked Christians more recently. It says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
In Maiduguri, the home town of Boko Haram hundreds of kilometers east of Kano, a policeman was shot dead by members of the sect. On Sunday, the military killed four Boko Haram gunmen in Maiduguri and found explosives in their car.
“The policeman was on patrol along with his colleague in a vehicle when the Boko Haram opened fire and shot him dead,” said Simeon Midena, the commissioner of police. “As usual the killers just disappeared into the crowd.”
The joint military task force has increased its defenses and widened its patrols in Maiduguri in recent days.
“Four members of Boko Haram sect involved in killings in Maiduguri and environs have been under surveillance of security agencies and have been shot dead in Pomomari area of Maiduguri yesterday (Sunday),” Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, an officer in the joint military task force, said earlier in a statement.
“Various IED (improvised explosive device) materials prepared for detonation were recovered from their car.”
Boko Haram, which was formed in Maiduguri in 2002, has killed hundreds of people in the last year, mostly in and around its home state of Borno, though its attacks have been spreading across the north of Africa’s most populous nation.
The sect originally said it wanted sharia (Islamic law) to be applied more widely across Nigeria.