KANO (Nigeria): At least 80 bodies were piled in a morgue in Nigeria's second-largest city of Kano on Saturday after coordinated bomb attacks and shootouts the previous night, an AFP correspondent reported.
The journalist was able to count at least 80 corpses in the morgue at Kano's main hospital, many with gunshot wounds, and the toll was expected to be higher.
Around 100 people waited outside the morgue to collect the bodies of relatives.
Coordinated bomb attacks targeting security forces and gun battles on Friday evening spread chaos in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, with bodies littering the streets on Saturday.
The main newspaper in Nigeria's north said that a purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for the violence, saying it was in response to authorities' refusal to release their members from custody.
The attacks prompted the government to announce a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city of more than 10 million people. Kano, like other cities in the north, has been plagued by an insurgency led by Boko Haram, which is blamed for scores of bombings and shootings, aimed mainly at government targets, that are growing in scale and sophistication.
A spokesman for Boko Haram contacted reporters in the northeast city of Maiduguri, where the sect is based, to claim responsibility for the attacks. Copies of a letter were also dropped around Kano, which appeared to be from the group.
The letter, written in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria, said the attacks were retribution for police arrests and killings of members of the sect. The police said in a statement they "are doing their best to bring the situation under control... (we are) appealing to members of the public to come forward with information on the identity and location of these hoodlums."
The police said eight buildings were attacked, including police headquarters, three police stations, the headquarters of the secret services and the immigration head office. Shooting between police and the gunmen went on into the night, residents said.
"We are still going around collecting corpses. We have nine but there are more, I don't know how many yet," a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency in Kano told the media.
"They are mostly police officers... some died from injuries from explosions, some gun shot wounds." Witnesses said smoke billowed from the police headquarters after the blast blew out its windows, wrecked its roof and triggered a blaze that firefighters struggled to control.
Two journalists killed
Two journalists have been killed in Nigeria in different attacks amid continuing unrest in Africa's most populous nation.
Private news station Channels Television says its reporter in Kano, Enenche Akogwu, was shot and killed on Friday while reporting on coordinated attacks claimed by the radical sect known as Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists says a news editor for a government-owned radio station called Highland FM in the restive central Nigerian city of Jos was found dead in a shallow stream on Thursday. The committee says colleagues of Nansok Sallah believe he was murdered.
While Nigeria has an unruly free press, journalists have been attacked and killed in the oil-rich nation over their reporting in the past.