Abuja Bomb Blast
In an incident which simply magnified Nigeria’s mounting security issues, an explosion caused by a suspected car bomb rocked a bus park at Nyanya-a poor working class area on the outskirts of Abuja. Reports obtained by health workers and the police confirm that the blast killed at least 71 people and reportedly wounded at least 124 people, barely 15 traffic free minutes from the Nation’s Presidential villa.
The death toll is currently rising and there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion almost immediately focused on the local Islamic extremist group- Boko Haram, a group which according to Amnesty international has been responsible for killing at least 1,500 people this year, attacking schools, government sites and civilians while wreaking havoc across Nigeria’s north eastern states.
The police have said that the explosion ripped through 16 luxury coaches and 24 minibuses. The initial blast spurred further explosions when vehicle tanks caught on fire. They said they suspected that a bomb had been planted in a Volkswagen Golf that was driven into the station and then detonated by a suicide bomber.
Traumatised witnesses said they saw bodies mangled beyond recognition, charred vehicles and strewn body parts that were being collected by emergency workers. In addition to passengers who were rushing to varied destinations for work on a Monday morning, the dead include women who stay at the bus park selling snacks, several bus, taxi drivers and transport workers and at least one young girl who had been taking bus tickets, witnesses said.
Banks in the neighbourhood of the affected area – Nyanya, were immediately closed, as government soldiers arrived by trucks to close roads leading to the bus station. A huge crowd of bystanders meanwhile, climbed onto a bridge near the open-air depot and gazed in shock at the bodies of the dead on the ground.
The capital has been struck by similar extremist attacks in the past. A total of 12 people were killed in 2010 by car bombs at an Independence Day ceremony in the nation’s capital. The bombs exploded alarmingly close to the place where the president, other politicians and diplomats were celebrating the country’s independence from Britain in 1960. A Nigerian group that existed in the Niger Delta that was linked to discontent over poverty in the country’s oil-producing region claimed responsibility.
Almost a year later, a vehicle packed with explosives exploded outside the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, destroying several floors in a roaring blast that left more than 20 people dead. The Islamic extremist group- Boko Haram was widely blamed for the blast. This blast was one that shocked the world and introduced an international dimension to the Islamist group that ended up being tagged a terrorist cell by the international community.
This attack is likely to raise fresh concerns about security in the Nigerian capital that should be hosting The World Economic Forum that is due to convene a three-day conference in Abuja on May 7.