Two twin bombings at Terminus Market in the central Nigerian city of Jos caused massive explosions Tuesday, killing 118 people according to a national official. The detonations of the bombs took place approximately 30 minutes apart, bringing rising blazes to the surrouding areas.
As rescue team responders ran into the flames, the second blast occurred causing a mounting mortality. Though the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported the death toll at 118, local State Commissioner Chris Olakpe said 48 died.
The conflicting estimates are due in part to the continuing search for the dead. Mohammed Abdulsalam, the coordinator for NEMA, said teams are still sifting through the ashes for the wounded and predicted a rise in the number of fatalities.
An anonymous ambulance driver said he saw 30 people dead and 15 injured. Olakpe referred to the attacks as “terrorist activities,” but did not specifically name an organization.
Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group in Nigeria, is suspected in the attacks, but no evidence has confirmed that accusation. The centrally located Jos has been the scene of conflict between Christians and Muslims, as it splits the nation into a Christian south and Muslim north.
President Goodluck Jonathan spoke out against the bombings calling them a “tragic attack on human freedom.” Though many in Nigeria are upset with their leader, believing he and other authorities could have prevented Tuesday’s events.
According to Mark Lipdo, a member of the Christian charity, the Stefanos Foundation, a white van sat outside the market for hours causing vendors to report their suspicions to local authorities. He said, though, no action was taken.
The dissatisfaction with authorities on Tuesday is part of a growing unhappiness with the government’s response to terrorist acts. Despite a year-old military state of emergency, at least 2,000 people have died from the hands of Boko Haram this year alone.
While responsibility for the explosions in Jos has not been declared, those in Nigeria said the event had all the markings of a Boko Haram hit. The group has been running virtually undisturbed throughout its stronghold in the northeast, so far killing 5,600 in their attempt to transform Nigeria into an Islamic state.
Boko Haram has been spreading terror throughout Nigeria for nearly four years, but has recently caught international attention. In mid-April the group abducted nearly 300 school girls, at least 200 of which are still missing.
Despite the unhappiness within the country, President Jonathan insisted the government remains fully committed to winning the war [on] terror.” Since the kidnapping of the girls, intelligence and military support has come from the United States and Britain.
Nigerian officials also requested that a United Nations Security Council, who monitors the sanctioning of Al Qaeda, place an arms embargo on Boko Haram as well as freeze their assets.
The Nigerian government has promised their people they are doing all they can to contain the group’s violence despite attacks on villages in recent weeks that have left at least 300 dead. The recent explosions in the Jos market have added to the growing uncertainty in Nigeria amid the rampant terror of Boko Haram.
By Erin P. Friar