ABUJA: Seventy-one people died in a bomb blast in a packed bus station in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Monday — the deadliest attack yet to strike the city — with the president blaming the explosion on Boko Haram Islamists.
The bomb, which also injured 124 people, rocked the Nyanya station on Abuja’s southern outskirts at 6:45 am (0545 GMT) as it was filled with morning commuters, leaving body parts scattered across the terminal and destroying dozens of vehicles.
Previously, much of the recent violence by the Boko Haram insurgency has been in the remote northeast, though some have targeted the central capital.
This major bombing, just a few kilometres (miles) from the seat of government, will raise further doubts about Nigeria’s ability to contain the Islamist threat it is battling.
The explosion “emanated from a vehicle” parked within the station, said Charles Otegbade, head of search and rescue at the National Emergency Management Agency.
National police spokesman Frank Mba put the toll at 71 dead and 124 injured. The wounded were being treated in area hospitals.
Visiting the site, President Goodluck Jonathan vowed that Nigeria would overcome the brutal insurgency being waged by Boko Haram, blamed for killing thousands across the north and centre of the country since 2009.
“The issue of Boko Haram is quite an ugly history within this period of our own development,” Jonathan said. “But we will get over it… The issue of Boko Haram is temporary.”
The Islamists, who say they want to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria, have previously set off bombs in and around the capital, including a 2011 car bombing at the United Nations headquarters that killed at least 26 people.
Monday’s explosions at the bus station left a hole roughly 1.2 metres (four feet) deep and spread debris across the compound, an AFP reporter and witnesses said.
“I saw bodies taken away in open trucks,” said witness Yakubu Mohammed, describing grisly remains that “were burnt and in pieces”.
Experts warn that force alone cannot stem the bloodshed and have called for a major outreach to dejected and deeply impoverished youths from the north who fill Boko Haram’s ranks.
Goodluck and the so-called experts are delusional. The Islamic terror for a sharia state continued via BBC News – Nigeria unrest: Gunmen abduct ‘about 100 schoolgirls’.
Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.
Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel’s teenage residents on to lorries.
The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.
On Monday, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, has been waging an armed campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
“Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles,” AFP news agency quotes Emmanuel Sam, an education official in Chibok, as saying.
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