Witnesses: Security forces kill 2 in north Nigeria 

Nigerian security forces killed a man and his pregnant wife early Tuesday morning in an assault on a neighborhood in this northern city where an attack four days ago by a radical Islamist sect killed at least 185 people, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, police showed journalists Tuesday explosives used by the sect known as Boko Haram during its attack Friday in the sprawling city of Kano and acknowledged some gunmen wore uniforms resembling paramilitary police and soldiers. Police said they found 10 unexploded car bombs and hundreds of small improvised explosive devices after Friday's attack.

Witnesses said security forces surrounded a home early Tuesday in Nigeria's second-largest city and started a gun battle that lasted hours. The man who was killed was a retired worker from the country's education ministry and had no involvement in Boko Haram, the sect that launched Friday's attacks in the northern city of Kano, said Musa Ibrahim Fatega, a relative of the slain man.

Assault rifle rounds left bullet holes in the cement walls of the home attacked by security forces. Its interior metal doors were peppered with holes. Inside a living room, blood pooled around beige sofas, with a single rifle cartridge left behind. A man in traditional robes sobbed as he stood in the puddle.

A sedan inside the compound, also riddled with bullet holes, bore federal government license plates.

Security forces took the two bodies away, with family members still trying to figure out how to reclaim them for burial before sundown according to Islamic tradition.

"He didn't belong to any religious group. Is it because of his beard?" Fatega asked. "That means you cannot dress the way you are. Is it good? Is this how government is going to treat us?"

The scene around the house was tense as onlookers pressed against the front gate. A military attack helicopter circled overhead.

Kano state police commissioner Ibrahim Idris told journalists Tuesday afternoon that a "sister agency" carried out the attack on the house. Typically, police use that term when referring to the State Security Service, the county's secret police. Marilyn Ogar, a secret police spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment.

Much of bloodshed during Friday's attack occurred when Boko Haram gunmen threw improvised bombs made of aluminum cans and a white powder explosive, likely fertilizer. Stuffed with cotton at the top, each can held a simple detonator. One canister of explosives also had a full-sized wall clock attached to it with wiring.

Police say they found 10 car bombs and about 300 of those explosive cans after the attack. The devices had not exploded. It was not clear if the car bombs had been planted before Friday's attack and had not gone off, or had been planted after the attack. The latter possibility has raised fears that Boko Haram could strike again in this city of more than 9 million people that carries religious and political importance across Nigeria's Muslim north.

Some Boko Haram members wore uniforms resembling those of the Mobile Police, the paramilitary arm of the nation's federal police, to take control of the streets during Friday's attack, Idris said. Others wore camouflage uniforms like those worn by soldiers in the country, the commissioner said.

"Some of our police officers who saw them on the street thought they were their colleagues," Idris said. "They just shot them in cold blood."

The assault killed at least 150 civilians, 29 police officers, three secret police officers, two immigration officers and one customs official, police said, bringing the death toll to 185 dead. Medical workers and emergency officials say they still expect the toll to rise even further.

The coordinated attack was Boko Haram's deadliest assault since beginning a campaign of terror last year. Boko Haram has now killed 262 people in 2012, more than half of the 510 people the sect killed in all of 2011, according to an Associated Press count.

Nigeria's weak central government has been unable to stop the killings, and its heavy-handed military response has been criticized by civilians who live in fear of sect attacks and government reprisals.

Boko Haram wants to implement strict Shariah law and avenge the deaths of Muslims in communal violence across Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people split largely into a Christian south and Muslim north.

While the sect has begun targeting Christians in the north, the majority of those killed Friday appeared to be Muslim, officials said.


Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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