AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
KANO: Gunmen suspected of being Boko Haram Islamists killed a dozen people when they razed a police station after failing to storm a jail in northeastern Nigeria's Gombe city, police said Saturday.
The city was put under lockdown, with no residents allowed to leave their homes, after the gun and bomb attacks in a botched attempt to free inmates.
"The gunmen had attempted to break into the prison near the police station and their attempt was unsuccessful, but they succeeded in burning down the police station," police chief for Gombe state Gandhi Ebikeme Orubebe told AFP.
"So far 12 people have been killed in the bomb and shooting attack, 10 of them were civilians and two policemen," he said, adding that the police station had been blown up with bombs.
Witnesses had earlier told AFP they counted 14 bodies.
No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamist sect Boko Haram last week said it was behind a prison raid in central Kogi state, near the capital Abuja, which freed 119 inmates.
Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of recent raids in northern and central Nigeria, has repeatedly claimed its members are being illegally held in state prisons and demanded their release.
Many of Boko Haram's recent attacks have targeted the police, but suspected members of the sect also gunned down five worshippers inside a mosque on Friday as evening prayers ended in Kano, Nigeria's second largest city.
Boko Haram's violent campaign has intensified in recent months and on Thursday Nigeria's top military chief said the group had formed links with Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
"I have seen at least 14 burnt bodies in and around the police station," a witness in Gombe said earlier on condition of anonymity.
He said he counted 10 bodies inside the police building, while four others were found dead in a burned out car outside the station.
Orubebe said the prison raiders were "repelled by our men guarding the place, then they came to one police station and fired a lot of guns and also threw bombs."
The prison overlooks the police station and both are situated near the palace of the emir, the top traditional Muslim leader in the city of Gombe, the capital of a state of the same name.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sin" in the Hausa language, had previously targeted Christian worshippers in Gombe.
The sect launched an uprising in 2009 in Africa's most populous nation, which was put down by a brutal military assault that left some 800 people dead.
After lying dormant for about a year, the group has re-emerged with a series of shootings and bomb attacks that have killed around 1,000 people. Its deadliest assault left 185 people dead in Kano last month.
The group also claimed responsibility for a Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic Church outside the capital Abuja that claimed at least 44 lives, and a suicide blast at UN headquarters in the city that killed 25 in August.