Six dead in 'Boko Haram' suicide attack at Nigeria petrol station

KANO, Nigeria (AFP) - Six people were killed, including three police, in a suicide bomb attack at a petrol station in northern Nigeria's biggest city Kano, police said, blaming Boko Haram militants.

The blast happened at about 7.30pm at the Nagarshiku filling station in the Hotoro area of Kano, causing a fire that engulfed the facility and set cars ablaze.

The petrol station is opposite the scene of a July 28 suicide attack by a female bomber and is used as a base by a military unit that patrols the area, indicating troops may have been the target.

The soldiers park their patrol vans inside the Nagarshiku petrol station at night, from where they coordinate their operations, local residents said.

"A man driving a Toyota Sienna drove into the filling station as if he was going to buy fuel," Kano state police commissioner Adenrele Shinaba told reporters.

"The vehicle exploded causing six deaths, including three policemen. Five were injured. It is obviously a suicide attack.

"It is too early to say who was responsible but it all bears the hallmark of the terrorists we've been battling," he added, referring to Boko Haram Islamists who have repeatedly attacked Kano.

The July 28 blast saw a woman detonate low-calibre explosives also at a petrol station, targeting women who had lined up to buy kerosene, police said at the time.

At least three women died. The attack, and a second about three hours later in which another female bomber blew herself up outside a shopping complex, were blamed on Boko Haram militants.

The double bombings were among five to hit Kano in a week, forcing the authorities to cancel celebrations for the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Before then, Kano had seen a decline in Boko Haram attacks.

Friday's blast destroyed two military vehicles and left a wide crater in the ground, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The fire service were able to douse the flames before it reached a fuel truck, which witnesses had earlier claimed was rammed by the car and exploded as it was delivering its cargo.

One witness, Yusuf Mamuda, said fire flew in all directions and enveloped the whole filling station, adding: "It is a miracle if anyone inside survived."

Mamuda himself sustained burns to his leg.

Another resident in Hotoro who lives nearby said the petrol station was turned into "a hell-spitting fire" and firefighters battled to put out the flames, including from nearby parked cars.

"I don't think there is any survivor inside the filling station," he added.

Several commuters at a bus stop in front of the filling station were affected by the explosion and the resulting inferno, said local man Shamsu Maidoki.

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