Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, was the scene of a Monday morning bomb blast that killed 71 people and injured an additional 124. Abuja is no stranger to terrorist style attacks, as it has been targeted before by islamist militants within the country. This latest attack however may have been one of the deadliest such attacks to take place within the country. The explosion ripped apart a crowded bus station within Nigeria’s capital, and caused some of the worst carnage the country has witnessed recently.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks but that hasn’t stopped accusations from being made. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been known to attack civilian and government locations in the past, however the group has not taken responsibility for the recent attacks. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, despite no official determination, has blamed the Islamist militants of Boko Haram for the attacks.
The blasts took place Monday morning at 6:30, and the damage was concentrated around a bus stop in a poor area near one of the city centers of the capital. A particularly alarming fact was that the blast occurred just miles from the Nigerian President’s office. The damage in and around the direct blast area was significant according to officials. The damage included 16 luxury coaches along with 24 minibuses that were destroyed by the initial blast. Additional damage was caused as vehicles in and around the initial blast zone caught fire and added to the damage.
Investigating Nigerian officials had initially reported that two separate blasts had occurred, however they later reported that the damage may have been caused by a single explosion. One four foot crater, thought to be the initial blast area, was found amidst the blast zone, and emergency officials were busy for some time pulling bodies and body parts from the wreckage. Witnesses around the blast zone gave sad accounts of the carnage they saw as emergency personnel worked to investigate the scene and assist the injured.
Accounts include scenes of burned bodies, destroyed vehicles, and body parts strewn around the initial blast area. Although official reports are that 71 are dead and another 124 injured, a Nigerian police spokesman has stated that casualty counts were still coming in. The result of the explosion is that many in and around the country’s capital are afraid and have decided to stay at home following the blasts.
The sentiments of may witnesses, along with Nigeria’s President Jonathan, are that Boko Haram may be responsible for the attacks. The Islamist group however has not officially claimed responsibility. That has left little doubt for some that Boko Haram is to blame. The militant group has been causing chaos through violent attacks for some time, however President Jonathan and the Nigerian government had reported that the violence had been brought under some level of control and was mainly concentrated in the north-east of the country.
The recent attacks, if attributable to Boko Haram, may cause some doubt that the situation in Nigeria is under control. It may be a sign that the militant Islamists within the country are aiming to widen the scope of their attacks to regions other than the dangerous north-east of the country. As of now, Nigeria’s capital Abuja has been ripped apart by explosions which have killed 71 and injured another 124. Officials are working hard to secure the scene and assist the injured. The nation along with the wider international community is watching carefully to see if this event will signal a spike in violence in an a nation that has suffered such attacks in the recent past.
By Daniel Worku