Tue, Jan 14 2014
By Lanre Ola and Ibrahim Mshelizza MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters)
A car bomb killed at least 29 people on Tuesday in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, the epicenter of an Islamist revolt, witnesses said. No one claimed responsibility for the
blast. But militant sect Boko Haram,
founded in the city, has repeatedly
attacked schools, churches and
government and military targets in its
The attack will be a setback for President Goodluck Jonathan’s military crackdown, which had temporarily succeeded in pushing Boko Haram’s assaults into rural areas. Boko Haram gunmen stormed the airforce base and military barracks around Maiduguri’s airport on December 2, ending six months of relative calm in the city.
The bomb, planted in a three-wheel
rickshaw taxi, exploded outside the state television offices at around 1.30 pm (1230 GMT), witnesses told Reuters. “The attack happened just behind the fence of my office. I counted 29 bodies, including two kids and a mother. Lots of others seriously injured,” said Abba Kankami, a journalist working at the state television office.
Another witness, Baba Shiek, said he
counted 30 bodies.Military Spokesman Muhammad Dole said in a statement soldiers had arrested one person suspected of being behind what he called “heinous and dastardly acts”.Borno State Police Commissioner Lawan Tanko said 17 people were confirmed dead but the final death toll could be higher.
“TOO MUCH BLOOD”
“I saw two boys on the ground and their bodies cut into pieces, two other cars immediately caught fire and I ran away because there was too much blood,” city resident Aisha Hassan told Reuters.
Soldiers fired shots into the air to
disperse crowds before cordoning off
roads around the scene, witnesses said. Dozens of youths, some armed with machetes, protested on the street after the attack, accusing politicians of failing to curb Boko Haram. The violence killed thousands last year.
Boko Haram fighters continue to target military outposts and raid villages in remote regions near borders with Cameroon and Chad. The radical Islamist sect says it is fighting
to create an Islamic state in a country of nearly 170 million, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.
Maiduguri is the capital of Borno State, where Boko Haram first launched its uprising in 2009, beginning with drive-by shootings of policemen and quickly developing the scale and sophistication of its attacks. Tuesday is a public holiday in Nigeria, as millions of Muslims mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.
Boko Haram and splinter Islamist groups are viewed as the biggest security threat in Africa’s second largest economy and biggest oil producer. The United States and its allies are increasingly concerned that Islamist groups in Nigeria will strengthen ties with al Qaeda’s north African wing.
A Boko Haram suicide attack on the
United Nations building in 2011 in the
capital Abuja killed at least 25 people.