A series of bomb blasts rocked a mosque in the Nigerian city of Kano on Friday afternoon, killing dozens of people, according to witnesses and local reports.
At least 64 people died and 120 were wounded as a result of the explosions that occurred during Friday prayers, rescue officials told the AFP. VICE News has not been able to independently verify those numbers, which are expected to rise as rescue operations continue.
The attack in the northern Nigerian city is suspected to have been carried out by the radical Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has yet to come forward and claim responsibility.
"Two bombs exploded, one after the other, in the premises of the Grand Mosque seconds after the prayers had started," one witness, Aminu Abdullahi, told AFP. He added that a third bomb then detonated closeby.
Kano's Central Mosque is situated near the palace of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is one of Nigeria's most important and influential religious figures.
It remains unclear if the Muslim leader was present at the mosque, where he usually leads prayers, when the blasts occurred. The BBC reported the emir was in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
During prayers at the mosque less than two weeks ago, Sanusi had voiced support for vigilantes fighting Boko Haram and urged citizens to take up arms against the group. The militants have waged a violent insurgency across the country's northeast for more than five years in a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate in the country of more than 80 million Muslims.
The cleric, who was also the former governor of Nigeria's central bank until he was sacked earlier this year, also spoke about the military's inability to protect Nigerians. The government has been heavily criticized for its insufficient or botched responses to repeated rebel attacks on towns and villages, as well as its actions during the widely-publicized abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from the city of Chibok in April.
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