KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen shouting "God is great" fired into worshippers at a mosque in the village of the powerful governor of northern Kano state, witnesses said Wednesday. Police said three people were killed.
It was unclear if the attack was staged by suspected Islamic extremists or signals growing violence in political infighting ahead of presidential elections next year in Africa's biggest oil producer.
Survivor Yusuf Ibrahim Kwankwaso said gunmen stormed Kwankwaso village mosque Tuesday night and shouted "Allahu'akbar" as they sprayed gunfire into worshippers, who included the governor's elderly father. He escaped unhurt. Kwankwaso is 30 kilometers (20 miles) outside Kano, Nigeria's second largest city, and bears the same name as Gov. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Yusuf Kwankwaso, who is not related to the governor, said three people died at the scene and a dozen suffering bullet wounds were taken to Malam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.
Police assistant superintendent Musa Magaji Majiya confirmed three people were killed and 12 wounded.
Heshimu Suleiman, a special assistant to the governor, was among politicians who charged the attack was politically motivated to punish Kwankwaso for his defection from the People's Democratic Party of President Goodluck Jonathan to the opposition All Progressives Congress coalition.
There was no immediate response to the allegation from the president's office or his party.
Kwankwaso was among five governors who abandoned Jonathan in November, followed by the defection of 37 legislators in December that lost Nigeria's governing party its majority in the House of Representatives.
It has been a major blow to Jonathan amid growing fractures in his party over his perceived but undeclared desire to run for re-election next year. Fellow politicians have warned the president, in power since 2010, not to upset the delicate balance between Nigeria's Muslims and Christians and to stick to an unwritten party rule to alternate the presidency on those lines. Nigeria has about equal number of Muslims, who dominate the country's north, and Christians who live mostly in the south.
The political conflict comes as Nigeria confronts an Islamic uprising in three northeastern states that poses the greatest threat in decades to the security and cohesion of the country, Africa's most populous of more than 160 million people.
Kano has suffered sporadic but bloody bombing attacks claimed by Islamic extremists though it is not under a state of emergency imposed in May on the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Thousands of Muslims and Christians have been killed in the 4-year-old uprising.
Associated Press Writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Lagos, Nigeria.