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Shehu of Borno, Dep Gov Escape Death in Suicide Bomb Blast

13 Jul 2012

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Shehu of Borno, Umar Garbai el-Kanemi 

AFP

A suicide bomber in Borno State tried to assassinate a key Islamic leader outside his mosque after Friday prayers but missed his target and killed five others, police said.

The attempt to kill the Shehu of Borno, Umar Garbai el-Kanemi, was blamed on Islamist group, Boko Haram, who have launched a wave of attacks in the northern part of the country, reports AFP.

"A lone suicide bomber blew himself up while targeting some dignitaries coming back from the Friday prayers near the Shehu's palace," said Bala Hassan, the Borno State Police Commissioner.

"Five people have been killed," he added, confirming the blast in the capital Maiduguri, where Boko Haram is believed to be based.

Deputy Governor of the state, Zannah Mustapha said he was standing next to the Shehu when the bomber approached and they both narrowly escaped death.

"It was God that saved me and the Shehu, otherwise we would have been dead by now," he told AFP.

The two were standing among others after prayers at the mosque near the Shehu's palace when a young man of roughly 16 years of age approached.

"I heard a loud blast and it dawned on me that the young man had detonated a bomb. Luckily neither me nor the Shehu was injured, but our robes were splattered with human flesh and blood," Mustapha said.

Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa of the military's Joint Task Force in Borno said the blast went off at roughly 2:10 pm and that two soldiers assigned to guard Kanemi were "critically injured" in the attack.

The bomber killed himself, in addition to the five worshippers, the military and police said.

No group has claimed the attack, but Boko Haram has targeted the Shehu in the past and claimed the assassination last year of El-Kanemi's brother.

Boko Haram has said it wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and has disowned traditional religious leader like Kanemi for allowing themselves to be ruled by the secular government.

In a statement released on Monday, the group also vowed to "continue to hunt for government officials, wherever they are."

Boko Haram has operated in the country since 2002 but intensified their attacks three years ago and has claimed attacks killing more than 1,000 people since.

Attacks on mosques are rare as the group has typically targeted security services, symbols of authority and Christians, often during Sunday prayers.

Some have warned that the Islamists are trying to provoke a religious war in Africa's most populous country.

In an effort to get on top of the situation, a few weeks ago, President Goodluck Jonathan replaced his Minister of Defence and National Security Advisor.

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, Suicide Bomber

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