Saturday 21 October 2017

Car bomb at UN Nigerian offices leaves 18 dead

Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja

At least 18 people were killed yesterday in a suicide car-bomb attack on a United Nations office complex in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, yesterday.

The explosion took place after a Honda CR-V crashed into the main UN building on Independence Avenue in the central business district, Abuja Police commissioner Mike Zuokumor told reporters.

More than 30 people were wounded, said Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency.

The blast destroyed the reception area and tore out the first floor of the four-story building. At least 12 UN agencies operated in the building, a UN spokeswoman, Corinne Momal-Vanian, said.

The death toll will be "considerable," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters yesterday in New York.

"This was an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others," he said.

A militant Islamic group known as Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan's Taliban movement, claimed responsibility for the attack yesterday.

The blast today was "barbaric, senseless and cowardly," President Goodluck Jonathan said in an e-mailed statement.

US President Barack Obama condemned the attack as "horrific and cowardly" in a statement. "An attack on Nigerian and international public servants demonstrates the bankruptcy of the ideology that led to this heinous action," he said.

Attacks

Boko Haram has been blamed by Nigerian authorities for a series of bomb attacks and killings since last year.

Gunmen suspected to be members of the group attacked a police station and a bank yesterday in the northeastern town of Gombi, killing 16 people, including five police officers, a soldier and 10 bank customers, said Ahmed Isa, a local official.

Some bank customers were shot dead by the attackers when they couldn't recite the Koran, the Lagos-based 'Guardian' newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr Jonathan's administration is likely to "come down strongly on Boko Haram" in response to today's blast, Martin Ewi, a senior researcher at the Pretoria, South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, said. "The consequences for Boko Haram will be far-reaching. They will be condemned by international governments, not just Nigeria."

Irish Independent

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