Worshippers locked in Nigeria mosque and set on fire

ABUJA   -   At least 11 worshippers have been killed and dozens others injured after a man attacked a mosque in Nigeria’s northern Kano state, police say. A man allegedly sprayed the mosque with petrol and locked its doors before setting it on fire, trapping about 40 worshippers, they said. The attack was triggered by a family dispute over the sharing of inheritance. Police say they have arrested a 38-year-old suspect. The incident happened when people were attending morning prayers on Wednesday in Gezawa area of Kano state. Residents said flames engulfed the mosque after the attack with worshippers heard wailing as they struggled to open the locked doors. After hearing the explosion, neighbours rushed to help those trapped inside, local media reported. Rescue teams including bomb experts from the city of Kano were immediately deployed in response to the attack, a police statement said. Police later confirmed that a bomb was not used in the attack. The Fire Service in Kano said they were not called immediately after the fire started, adding that they could have brought the situation under control much faster. Kano Fire Service spokesman Saminu Yusuf told the BBC that they were only informed after locals had already put out the fire. “In a situation like this, people are supposed to call us but we didn’t get any call from the location until after normalcy had returned,” Mr Yusuf added. Police said the suspect confessed that his actions were part of a dispute over inheritance, claiming he was targeting some family members who were inside the mosque. “What happened is not associated with any act of terrorism, rather it was a skirmish that arose as a result of inheritance distribution,” Umar Sanda, a local police chief, told journalists after visiting the scene.

“The suspect is presently with us and is giving out useful information,” Mr Sandahe added. Initial reports said one worshipper had died from the attack but the death toll later rose after more victims died while receiving treatment at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital in Kano. More victims, including children, are still receiving treatment at the hospital, according to police.

Islamic cleric Sheik Dauda Sulaiman says killing people while they’re praying is one of the biggest sins possible and that apart from repenting to God, the culprit should pay blood money to the families of those that died. The whole village is now in mourning.

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