Kano -The Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, on Saturday said Nigeria's Muslims will not be intimidated into abandoning Islam following coordinated bomb and gun attacks on the city's central mosque that left at least 120 people dead.
"We will never be intimidated into abandoning our religion, which is the intention of the attackers," the emir said during a 20-minute-visit to the mosque shortly after his return to the country.
The mosque adjoins his palace in the city. Sanusi was out of Nigeria on Friday, when the deadly assault on the mosque occurred.
Last week, the emir - who is the country's second most senior Muslim cleric - made a call at the same mosque urging civilians to take up arms against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
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But during his visit, he implicitly dismissed widespread speculation that the attack was in retaliation to that call.
"From all indications, they (attackers) have been planning this for at least two months," Sanusi said in Hausa, the dominant language in northern Nigeria.
The emir, who did not give details supporting that assertion, directed the place be washed and cleaned, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.
Pieces of flesh, blood splatters, broken floor tiles, abandoned footwear and prayer mats littered the mosque when the emir visted the mosque.Blood on mosque's walls
Bloodstains were also noticeable at the entrance and on the walls of the mosque. The bomb blasts had left gaping holes in the ceiling of the sprawling religious edifice.
"I have directed that the mosque be washed and cleaned and prayers should continue here," Sanusi said.
He did comment on the victims of the attack.
Hundreds of residents and faithfuls thronged the outside of the mosque to catch a glimpse of the scene of the carnage. Carcasses of dozens of burnt motorcycles and cars as well as water bottles and hand fans were scattered around the area.
A senior rescue official late Friday gave AFP the preliminary death toll of 120.
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The official also said that at least 270 people were wounded in the attack, which saw two suicide bombers blow themselves up and gunmen opened fire during weekly prayers in Kano, the biggest city in the mainly Muslim north of the country.
Kano State acting police chief, Sanusi Lemu, told journalists that three of the attackers were grabbed and killed by the enraged mob.
He did not give further details.
President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Saturday to hunt down those behind the "heinous" attack.
A statement from his office said he had "directed the security agencies to launch a full-scale investigation and to leave no stone unturned until all agents of terror ... are tracked down and brought to justice".
He urged Nigerians "not to despair in this moment of great trial in our nation's history but to remain united to confront the common enemy," the statement said.