A suicide car bomber killed five people on a street of bars
and restaurants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on
Sunday evening. REUTERS/Stringer
Back-to-back bomb blasts have killed at least 118 people
and wounded 45 in the crowded business district of the central
Nigerian city of Jos, emergency services said, in an attack
that appeared to bear the hallmarks of the Boko Haram
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the
militant group Boko Haram, which has set off bombs across the
north and centre of Nigeria in an increasingly bloody
campaign for an Islamic state, was likely to be the prime
suspect in what would rank among their deadliest single
attacks in five years of insurrection.
Boko Haram grabbed world headlines by abducting more than 200
schoolgirls on April 14 from the northeastern village of
Chibok. Britain, the United States and France have pledged to
help rescue them.
If the Jos attack was the handiwork of Boko Haram, it would
show their growing reach in Africa's top oil producing and
most populous country, striking out beyond their heartland in
Nigeria's semi-arid and weakly governed northeast. Several
bombs have exploded outside that region over the past month.
It was also likely calculated to stoke civil strife in
Nigeria's most combustible ethnic and sectarian tinder box.
Jos and the surrounding Plateau state have seen thousands
killed in tit-for-tat violence between largely Christian
Berom farmers and Muslim Fulani cattle herders over the past
A Reuters reporter saw 10 bodies burned beyond recognition at
the bomb site opposite a hospital at Terminus, the downtown
area of Jos which houses shops, some offices and a market.
"We've now recovered 118 bodies from the rubble," said
Mohammed Abdulsalam, coordinator of the National Emergency
Management Agency in Jos. "This could rise by morning, as
there is still some rubble we haven't yet shifted."
Plateau state Police Commissioner Chris Olakpe earlier
confirmed a death toll of 46, adding that other wounded had
been taken to hospital.
"The first explosive went off around 3 p.m. The second was
about 3:30 while people gathered to help the victims," he
said by telephone. "This is a very busy area of Jos
The back-to-back blast tactic, whose aim is to maximise
civilian casualties, has also been used by militants in Iraq
and other places.
Jos has been relatively free of attacks by Boko Haram, but it
claimed responsibility for a bomb in a church in the highland
city, as well as two other places, on Christmas Day in 2011.
The city is in the heart of Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt",
where its largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north
meet, and surrounding Plateau state is often a flashpoint for
violence, although the Christmas bombing failed to trigger
But in a sign it could, a mob of Christian youths armed with
clubs advanced toward a Muslim part of Jos before police held
them back, police spokeswoman Felicia Anselm said by
"The Christians were advancing toward us and I thought I was
going to die," Dalami Aspar, who escaped a mob as they ran
toward him in the street, told Reuters.
President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the blasts, calling the
perpetrators "cruel and evil."
"The government remains fully committed to winning the war
against terror, and this administration will not be cowed by
the atrocities of enemies of human progress and
civilization," he said in a statement emailed by his office.
He announced heightened measures to tackle the insurgents,
including a multinational force around Lake Chad, comprising
a battalion each from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Tuesday's explosions burned several shops to the ground,
shattering windows and spreading rubble in the road. Police
sirens wailed as officers rushed to the scene.
"There was a loud bang that shook my whole house. Then smoke
was rising," said Jos resident Veronica Samson. "There were
bodies in the streets and people rushing injured to hospital
in their cars."
For most of the past two years, the insurgency has been
largely confined to Nigeria's remote northeast bordering
Cameroon, Chad and Niger, where militants move easily across
borders, but it appears once again to be spreading outward.
A morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 people at a bus
station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja last month.
Another in almost exactly the same place, in the suburb of
Nyanya, killed at least 19 people at the beginning of May.
A suicide car bomber also killed five people in the northern
city of Kano on Sunday evening in an area mostly inhabited by