Latest update: 01/09/2011
- Nigeria - terrorism - United Nations
Nigeria wants al-Qaeda-linked militant over UN bomb
Nigerian authorities announced on Wednesday that Mamman Nur, a member of the local Islamist sect Boko Haram, is wanted as the primary suspect behind last week's bomb attack on UN headquarters in Abuja that left 23 people dead.
REUTERS - Nigerian authorities said on Wednesday that a member of a local Islamist sect who has al Qaeda links orchestrated the bombing last week on the U.N. headquarters in Abuja that killed 23 people, and they declared him wanted.
“Investigation has revealed that one Mamman Nur, a notorious Boko Haram element with al Qaeda links who returned recently from Somalia, working in concert with two suspects masterminded the attack on the United Nations building in Abuja,” the Department of State Services said in a statement.
It did not give details of how it came to this conclusion, beyond mentioning that the two Boko Haram suspects were in detention and had given “valuable statements”.
“We implore ... the general public to cooperate with security agencies by providing useful information that could lead to the arrest of Mamman Nur, who is hereby declared wanted,” it said.
The bomb on Friday gutted a floor, smashed nearly all of the windows and also wounded 76 people, U.N. officials said—one of the worst attacks on the United Nations in its history and deadlier than a 2003 blast on its offices in Baghdad that killed 22 people.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful” in the northern Nigerian Hausa language, has become President Goodluck Jonathan’s biggest security headache/ It has carried almost daily shootings or attacks with homemade bombs against security services and civilians in the remote northeast.
Jonathan sought to reassure Nigerians on Tuesday that he was stepping up security to prevent more bomb attacks.
The U.N. bombing marks an increase in the sophistication of Boko Haram’s attacks, apparently with more powerful explosives, and an escalation from local to international targets, analysts say. Some suggest Boko Haram is developing global ambitions and may have connected with al Qaeda’s North African wing.
If Nigerian authorities are correct, it may also have linked up with jihadists in Somalia.
Some Nigerians worry that the oil industry – only just recovering from militancy in the southern Niger Delta region that mostly ceased with an amnesty in 2009 – might be the next target, although moving into the mostly Christian south would prove a huge challenge for Islamist militants.
“This latest attack ... aimed at the U.N. indicates an internationalisation of the struggle and bears hallmarks of an al Qaeda connection,” the Eurasia Group wrote on Tuesday.
“While this is a worrying development for investors, including western oil companies, the oil-rich Niger Delta will be much harder terrain for Boko Haram to operate in.”