Bomb attacks kill over 140 in Nigeria

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At least 140 people have been killed after at least five bomb blasts rocked the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Friday.   The coordinated series of attacks on government buildings in the city of 9 million are the latest in a violent campaign by the Islamist sect Boko Haram which has led to the death of thousands over the past few years.

The Nigerian authorities have blamed Boko Haram for at least 510 killings last year alone, including a suicide bombing on the UN headquarters in the national capital Abuja in August last year.  The violence has intensified in 2012.  So far this year, the group has been blamed for at least 219 killings.

A Boko Haram spokesman using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message released to the media on Friday.  He said the attack was carried out because the government refused to release members of the organisation detained by the security services.

Boko Haram, whose name means ‘Western education is sacrilege’ in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, wish to impose a strict form of Sharia law throughout the country.  Nigeria’s population of around 165 million is religiously divided between the majority Muslim north and the mainly Christian south.  Boko Haram recently said it would specifically target Christians living in the north of Nigeria.