KANO, Nigeria — Suspected members of the radical Boko Haram Islamist sect on Monday staged simultaneous bomb and gun attacks on a police station and a bank killing seven people, witnesses and local journalists said.
The dead included five policemen, witnesses said, in an attack coming just four days after the sect bombed the country's police headquarters in the capital Abuja killing at least two.
A gang of 10 gunmen launched the two attacks on a police station and a bank in Kankara town, 130 kilometres (80 miles) south of the northern city of Katsina.
"The attackers were 10 in all, divided themselves in two groups and attacked the bank and the police station at the same time with guns and bombs," Kankara resident Salmanu Jabir said.
"One group attacked the divisional police station, killing three policemen ... and setting free suspects from cells before bombing the police station," another Kankara resident Danjuma Nakande told AFP on the phone from the town.
He said the attackers fled carrying guns and ammunition, suspected to have been seized from the police station.
"While the attack on the police station was on, another group was robbing the bank," Nakande said.
The group used a bomb to destroy an electronic door of a bank situated along the same road as the police station and made off with cash. They shot dead two policemen and a bank security guard during the robbery, said another resident, Salmanu Male.
A local reporter who was in the town said he counted six bodies including five policemen and a security guard attached to the robbed bank.
"The police station has been reduced to rubble from the bombing and three bodies of uniformed policemen lay among the debris," said the reporter.
Another person died in hospital after he was shot by the fleeing gunmen when he attempted to pick up some of the stolen cash falling out of one of their bags, resident Jabir said.
Police were not immediately available to comment. Repeated calls put through to the police commissioner and his spokesman in the state went unanswered.
Male said the attackers carrying AK-47 rifles wore beards and were clad in long robes and "chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) throughout the operation, suggesting they are Boko Haram".
This would be the first attack Boko Haram staged in Katsina state, suggesting that the sect was carrying out its threat of widening its attacks to other parts of the north.
It has since last year waged a low-level insurgency focusing mainly on the northeastern Maiduguri city, although it has also been active in northern Bauchi city.
An attack which police said was carried out by a suicide bomber shook the core of Nigerian security services last Thursday hitting the national police headquarters. At least two people - a policemen and the suspected bomber - were killed in the attack.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sin", launched in 2009 an uprising which was put down by a brutal military assault that left hundreds dead, mostly sect members.
It has pushed for the creation of an Islamic state and been blamed for the shootings of police and community leaders, bomb blasts and raids on churches, police stations and a prison.
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