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7 dead in sect attacks in north Nigeria

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — A coordinated series of bombings and gun attacks Friday claimed by a radical Islamist sect killed at least seven people in the largest city in Nigeria’s Muslim north, witnesses said, threatening to engulf the whole region in violence.

Police and emergency officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but the scope of the attacks suggested the death toll would rise. The attacks also represent the first major assault by members of the sect known as Boko Haram on Kano, a city of more than 9 million people that holds the dominant political and religious forces for Muslims in Nigeria.

The attacks began at 5 p.m. Friday, following afternoon prayers as workers began to leave their offices in the sprawling, dusty city.

A massive blast at a regional police headquarters shook cars miles away, an Associated Press reporter said. The explosion tore away the headquarters’ roof and blew out the building’s windows. Three blasts struck other police stations around the city, said Abubakar Jibril, an official with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Gunfire also echoed through the streets.

Inmates at the police headquarters fled amid gunfire, witnesses said. Witness Garba Danazumi Lere said he saw the dead bodies of at least three police officers and a local journalist there.

At a nearby passport office, at least three immigration officers and an unknown number of civilians also were killed, local Nigeria Immigration Service spokesman Mohammed Kanoma said.

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