KANO, Nigeria — Nigerian security forces killed a man and a pregnant woman early Tuesday morning in an assault on a neighborhood in this northern city where at least 185 people died in a recent terror attack by a radical Islamist sect, witnesses said.
Assault rifle rounds left bullet holes in the cement walls of the home in the sprawling city of Kano. Its interior metal doors were peppered with holes as well. 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.
Witnesses said security forces surrounded the home early Tuesday morning and started a gun battle that lasted hours. Relative Musa Ibrahim Fate said the dead man was a retired worker from the country's education ministry. A sedan inside the compound, also riddled with bullet holes, bore federal government license plates.
Fate said the man, who he declined to name, was not a member of the sect known as Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the coordinated attack Friday in Kano that left so many dead. Security forces took the two dead bodies away, with family members still trying to figure out how to claim them for burial before sundown as is Islamic tradition.
"He didn't belong to any religious group. Is it because of his beard?" Fate asked. "That means you cannot dress the way you are. Is it good? Is this how government is going to treat us?"
Kano state police spokesman Magaji Musa Majiya declined to immediately comment, saying the local commissioner of police would brief journalists later Tuesday. However, the scene around the house remained tense as locals pressed against the front gate Tuesday morning. A military attack helicopter circled overhead.
Friday's attack in Kano killed at least 150 civilians, 29 police officers, three secret police officers, two immigration officers and one customs official, police now say, bringing the toll to 185 dead. Medical workers and emergency officials say they still expect the death toll to rise.
Police also say they have discovered 10 unexploded car bombs in the city, as well as about 300 bombs made from aluminum cans and other explosives. That 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.
Friday's coordinated attack in Kano represents 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.
Associated Press writer Salisu Rabiu contributed to this report.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.