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Africa

Suicide bomber targets World Cup fans in Nigeria

© AFP (archive photo of the wreckage from an explosion at a football viewing centre in the central Nigerian city of Jos, on May 25, 2014)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-18

A suicide bomber detonated a tricycle taxi packed with explosives at an outdoor World Cup viewing centre in a northeast Nigerian city on Tuesday night, killing 14 people and injuring 26 others, police said.

The blast ripped through the Crossfire venue in Damaturu at around 8pm (7pm GMT), just as tournament hosts Brazil kicked off against Mexico.

Several pickup trucks carrying bodies arrived at the nearby General Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, a hospital source said, adding: “There are also many casualties in the emergency room.” A Reuters witness near the scene heard a loud boom, and some residents said they also heard a second explosion.

Hospital workers said some of the critically wounded brought to the hospital may yet die, as casualties continued to arrive at the main hospital at Damaturu, capital of Yobe state.

Police Commissioner Marcus Danladi confirmed the explosion, adding that police were still trying to gather information.

Yobe state is an area that has been devastated by attacks from militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which in April abducted more than 200 girls from a school in neighbouring Borno state.

The Nigerian government has advised residents to avoid gathering in public places to watch the World Cup, due to the possibility of terrorist attacks.

Earlier this month, a bomb blast targeting another informal venue in northeast Nigeria where football fans had gathered killed at least 14 people and wounded 12.

Such assaults on the often-ramshackle television viewing centres have raised fears militant groups will target supporters gathering to cheer on the global football contests.

Many fans in football-mad Africa rely on informal venues – often open-sided structures with televisions set up in shops and side streets – to watch live coverage of the sport. Boko Haram – whose name roughly translates as “Western education is sinful” – has declared war on all signs of what it sees as corrupting Western influence.

The group has killed thousands since 2009 in its push to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria’s restive north.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-06-17

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