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Nigeria: Suicide bombers attack 2 mobile phone companies

Suicide bombers attacked the offices of MTN Group Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. in Kano, Nigeria, today.

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A mobile phone seller at the 'Computer village', a market for cellphones, second-hand computers and other electronic items in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 23, 2007. (ISSOUF SANOGO /AFP/Getty Images)

Suicide bombers in two separate cars attacked the offices of telecommunications companies MTN Group Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. in Kano, Nigeria, this morning, the Associated Press reported.

The Airtel bomber detonated his car full of explosives as he rammed into the company’s entrance, injuring an Airtel worker and killing himself, the AP reported. Guards shot the MTN Group bomber dead at the gate of Nigeria’s largest cellphone network provider, causing the car to explode.

The targets of the attacks appeared to be the companies’ switch stations, the Mail & Guardian reported. An Airtel employee told the Mail & Guardian that the station that was attacked covers six northern states, including Kano.

According to the AP:

Switch stations control the regional mobile phone network and if they are seriously damaged, the entire network could go down.

Customers were unable to make calls on Airtel's network across Kano following the blast, the Mail & Guardian reported.

Officials suspect the radical Islamic group Boko Haram is behind the attacks in Nigeria, where people rely on mobile phones rather than landlines to communicate, the AP reported.

In September, 31 cellphone towers were damaged in several incidents, but no one has claimed responsibility, the AP reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/121222/nigeria-suicide-bombers-attack-2-mobile-phone-companies