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At least 120 dead in blasts in Nigeria's Kano

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Al-Jazeera

Death toll continues to rise in northern city after a series of co-ordinated attacks targeting police and state offices.

A series of bombings and attacks claimed by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram has left at least 120 dead and many more injured in northern Nigeria's largest city, witnesses and the Red Cross have said.

"Many agencies are involved in the evacuation of corpses from the streets," a Nigerian Red Cross spokesman said on Saturday, under condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly, following Friday night's attacks.

"From our tally, we have 121 so far," he said.

Other death tolls are higher. Maude Gwadabe, a journalist in Kano, told Al Jazeera by phone that he had seen at least 140 dead bodies.

Gwadabe said the disparity was due to confusion in the aftermath of Friday's attacks and that victims had been taken to different hospitals, homes and treatment clinics.

"At least 140 people died. The Red Cross and Nigerian emergency services have collected the victims and brought them to one hospital [Murtala Central Hospital], and indeed, hospital officials say 140 people were killed," Gwadabe said.

In a statement released on Friday, Boko Haram claimed responsibilty for the attacks and said the blasts were revenge for the recent arrests of its members in Kano.

"We are compelled to write this letter to inform Kano residents of this development," wrote Abubakar Shekau, the group's leader.

Gunfire continued to echo through some areas of Kano on Saturday, despite a strict curfew imposed on Friday ight which will remain in place until further notice, local officials said.

'Commenced investigation'

In a statement issued late on Friday, federal police spokesman Olusola Amore said attackers targeted five police buildings, two immigration offices and the local headquarters of the State Security Service, Nigeria's secret police.

"The police have commenced investigation and therefore use this medium to call for calm among the residents of Kano as police are doing their best to bring the situation under control," Amore said.

He added that police are "appealing to members of the public to come forward with information on the identity and location of these hoodlums. Information given will be treated with utmost confidentiality".

Among those killed was a television reporter, Eneche Akogwu, 31, who was shot dead while interviewing witnesses.

The country's police chief, Hafiz Ringim, has called for an investigation into the blasts, which he described as "well-co-ordinated attacks".

Ringim is under investigation himself, after a suspect charged with carrying out Christmas Day bombings on churches, escaped from police custody earlier this week.

Some Nigerians have called for Ringim's resignation.

Scores of bomb blasts in Nigeria's north have been blamed on Boko Haram.

Attacks specifically targeting Christians have also given rise to fears of a wider religious conflict in the country, with Christian leaders warning they will defend themselves. Some have even evoked the possibility of civil war.

Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that killed 25 people.

Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, declared a state of emergency in parts of four states on December 31, hard hit by attacks blamed on Boko Haram.

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