Firefighters douse cars after a bomb blast at a crowded
shopping district in Abuja. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
At least 21 people were killed when a suspected bomb tore
through a crowded shopping district in the Nigerian capital
Abuja during rush hour, police said, adding to the toll of
thousands killed in attacks this year.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the
blast and no one claimed responsibility. However, militant
Islamist group Boko Haram has increasingly targeted civilians
in its bloody five-year insurgency.
The suspected bomb would be Abuja's third in three months and
comes as the Nigerian government and military face rising
public anger over their inability to protect citizens from
daily gun and bomb attacks across Africa's most populous
The explosion rocked a crowded district near the popular
Banex Plaza shopping centre in the upscale Wuse 2
neighbourhood just before 4 p.m. (1500 GMT).
"After a preliminary investigation, we can confirm that 21
people were killed and 17 injured," police spokesman Frank
Mba told reporters at the scene, adding that one suspect had
Another suspect was killed by soldiers as he tried to escape
on a motorcycle, the spokesman for Nigeria's National
Information Centre said.
Witnesses said the blast shattered windows, sent smoke
billowing into the air and carved out a large crater.
One local man, Shuaibu Baba, was in a shop making photocopies
when the blast hit, killing his taxi driver who was waiting
for him outside.
"I lost a driver. And why? Because I came to photocopy for 10
naira ($0.06) a page," he said.
"I begged him to take me here and this is the end."
Officials said the explosion hit while the district was at
its busiest, packed with shoppers and rush-hour commuters.
"I heard a loud blast, it shattered the windows of the shop.
We ran out. A lot of people ran too, some with bloodstains,"
said Gimbya Jafaru, who was shopping nearby.
Nigeria has been racked by almost daily bomb and gun attacks,
widely suspected to be the work of Boko Haram, a group that
has killed thousands since 2009 in its drive to carve out an
Islamist state in the north.
A separate blast rocked an area in the northeastern Adamawa
state on Wednesday, but no one was injured, local police
spokesman Othman Abubakar said.
Abuja has been a target for bombs. A suspected car bomb in
May killed at least 15 and an attack on a bus station a month
earlier at least 75.
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as "Western
education is sinful", initially attacked government and
security targets, as well as churches and Muslim leaders who
rejected its brand of Islam.
Recently it has begun targeting ordinary civilians more,
apparently emboldened by the global publicity that followed
its kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a school in the
remote Borno village of Chibok in April.
Nigerian media reported this week that northeast Borno state
had been hit by another mass abduction over the weekend.
However, the government said on Wednesday it had found no
proof of a fresh large-scale kidnapping.
"Based on available facts before us there was no abduction of
60 persons in Borno state," the National Information Centre
said in a statement.
Security forces launched an investigation after the reports
that as many as 91 people had been kidnapped over the weekend
when gunmen raided villages in Borno.