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Bayero University
Kano - Two professors and at least 17 other people were killed yesterday when gunmen struck a lecture theatre and a sport complex used by Christian worshippers at the Bayero University, Kano.

Witnesses said the attackers arrived on motorbikes and a Honda car at about 9am, and hurled small homemade explosives into the two centres before opening fire on fleeing worshippers.

Professor Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi of the university's Library Science Department and a Chemistry Professor were among those reported dead.

A number of other lecturers as well as some students were believed to have also been killed in the incident. It happened at a time when the university was on vacation.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest yet in Kano since the major Boko Haram assault on the city on January 20 that left 186 people dead.

Witnesses told Daily Trust that the attackers came through the university's main gate and escaped on motorbikes through a smaller gate.

They laid siege on the two centres, which had worshippers from within the university and from neighbouring settlements.

"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," said Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the Bayero University.

"It started at about 9:30 this morning ... our school security men had to run for their dear lives. You can see smoke all over," Suleiman said, quoted in an agency report.

A survivor, who gave his name as Benjamin, told Daily Trust that about 700 people turned up for service at the school's Chapel of Victory at the sport complex, when gunshots rent the air.

"The congregation was so large that some of us had to sit outside. As we were preparing for commencement of the mass, we heard gunshots around the gate of the complex. Everybody began to run in different directions," he said.

He said he saw two of the gunmen opening fire at everyone they could see, and that he crossed over a fence to escape, leaving behind his 7-month-old son and wife. He did not say if they had survived.

Benjamin said he counted nine bodies after the attack, and that at least six persons were injured. He said among the dead were the church's chairman Brother Adam, Professor Leo and some students.

Daily Trust gathered that while the attack on the Chapel of Victory was going on, another attack was simultaneously launched at another worship place in the lecture theatre.

"The place was being renovated and so we did not go into the theatre as we used to do," a survivor said. "We sat outside and just as the choir was beginning to sing, gunshots and sounds of explosives rang out." The survivor said his friend was killed in the attack.

A security source said at least 10 people were killed in the sport centre while a witness said not less than six people were killed in the theatre.

Government sources said 16 corpses were deposited at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, and three bodies at the Gamji Military Hospital.

When our correspondent visited the scenes of the incident, military and police personnel including bomb experts were seen combing the area.

Security sources said the experts disarmed an unexploded timed bomb which was planted inside one of the worship centres.

"The bomb is big. If it had exploded the casualty figure would have been much higher. We believe something went wrong with the mechanism and it did not blow up. Otherwise, it has been timed to go off during the attack," a source said.

A woman, Jummai, who spoke to our correspondent at the scene, said she came looking for her nephew, who was in one of the centres when the attack occurred.

Residents of neighbouring areas who spoke to Daily Trust said they heard a loud bang, which was followed by gunshots that lasted over an hour. They said after the attack, some gunmen were seen leaving the school campus on motorcycles and were firing in the air.

The gunmen escaped through a small gate along Dorayi road called Mango gate, a witness said. "I saw them coming towards the gate on motorbikes shooting in the air to scare people away from them. I advised the security man by the gate to remove his uniform so that they would not attack him and I then escaped by climbing the fence to the other side of the road," he said.

Spokesman for the Bayero University, Mustapha Zahraddeen, confirmed the death of one professor.

When contacted, spokesman for the Joint Task Force in Kano, Lieutenant Ikedichi Iweha, confirmed the death of seven people and said they were yet to ascertain the number of those injured.

In his reaction, chairman of the Kano State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr. Ransome Bello, described the attack as "barbaric and condemnable," but added that Christians will not retaliate.

"We don't encourage Christians to rise up in attack. Our best weapon of defence is prayer," he said.

"The security agencies are trying in terms of providing security at churches all over the state, which makes them safe from any attacks. Similar arrangements should have been made for collegiate churches," Bello added.

Kano city was calm later yesterday after the attacks at BUK.

Yesterday's incident came days after a suicide bomber struck the office of Thisday newspaper on Thursday in Abuja, killing 3 people, while another attack targeted a complex housing three newspapers in Kaduna on the same day, killing 3 more people.

The BUK attack was the second such strike on a university, after the incident at the Gombe State University on Thursday night in which part of the university Senate building was bombed but no casualty was recorded.