At least 21 people were killed when an explosion rocked an area near an upscale shopping centre in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Wednesday, police said.
"After a preliminary investigation, we can confirm that 21 people were killed and 17 injured," police spokesman Frank Mba told reporters at the scene.
The blast took place at Emab Plaza in the upscale Wuse 2 suburb of the capital as the area was packed with shoppers and rush-hour commuters, a source from the emergency services said.
Senior government spokesman Mike Omeri confirmed that the blast was the result of "a bomb attack".
Rescue teams were deployed to the scene and evacuated the victims from the area, spokesman Manzo Ezekiel of the National Emergency Management Agency told AFP.
"The explosion struck at peak business time," he said, adding that 40 cars had also been destroyed.
The blast, which targeted the entrance to the mall, was powerful enough to blow out windows in buildings on the opposite side of the street, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.
The mall is sandwiched between two other shopping centres and is one of the busiest in central Abuja.
The surrounding area was littered with the burnt-out wreckages of cars and soaked in pools of congealed blood. Rescue workers could be seen picking through what appeared to be the scorched body parts of victims.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, but Boko Haram Islamists have attacked Nigeria's capital twice in the last 10 weeks.
A car bombing killed 75 people at the Nyanya bus terminal on the outskirts of the city on April 14 while a copycat bombing at the same spot on May 1 left 19 people dead.
Boko Haram sparked worldwide outrage by kidnapping 276 schoolgirls in April and threatening to sell them.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-06-25