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Africa

Rush-hour blast kills scores in Nigerian capital Abuja

© afp

Video by William HILDERBRANDT

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-14

At least 71 people were killed on Monday when an explosion tore through a busy commuter bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital Abuja before 7am local time (0600 GMT) as hundreds of people were travelling to work, police said.

At least 124 others were wounded in the attack, which was the first on the capital in two years.

The blast ripped a hole 4-feet (1.2-metres) deep in the ground of Nyanya Motor Park, about 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the city centre and destroyed more than 30 other vehicles, causing multiple secondary explosions as their fuel tanks ignited and burned.

President Goodluck Jonathan blamed Boko Haram for the attack, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militants, who are active mainly in the northeast.

Visiting the scene, Jonathan denounced “the activities of those who are trying to move our country backwards” by staging such an attack. “We will get over it ... The issue of Boko Haram is temporary,” he said, imploring Nigerians to be more vigilant in the face of suspicious characters.

Boko Haram has been threatening to stage attacks in the capital, hundreds of miles from its traditional base in the northeast, where it has killed nearly 1,500 people this year.

The group last attacked the capital in 2011 when it claimed a suicide bombing by two explosives-laden cars that drove into the lobby of the United Nations office building in Abuja. That attack killed at least 21 people and wounded 60.

The militants are blamed for attacks in northeast Nigeria that have killed more than 50 people in the past five days, including eight teachers living at a boarding school that had been closed because of frequent attacks on schools in which hundreds of students have died.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has been attacking schools, villages, markets, and military barracks and checkpoints this year in increasingly frequent attacks.

The group's stated mission is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation with some 170 million people divided almost equally between Muslims living mainly in the north and Christians in the south.

The explosion comes a day after suspected Islamists killed at least 60 people in a brutal attack on several villages in northeastern Nigeria, hurling homemade bombs into houses and gunning down terrified residents trying to flee the massacre.

The Nigerian military says that it has the extremists on the run, and is conducting near-daily air bombardments and ground assaults on the group's hideouts in forests and mountain caves along the border with Cameroon.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-14

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