ABUJA: A suicide bomb blast rocked the UN compound in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Friday, killing at least 18 people, blowing out much of the building and marking a sharp escalation in a wave of attacks.
The bomb went off after a suspect forced his way through two security gates and rammed the car into the building. The first two floors were blown out and rescue workers scrambled to help those left inside.
A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Nigerian sect known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to AFP and threatened further violence. The veracity of his claims could not be confirmed.
“Through the wisdom of Allah, we have launched the attack with absolute precision,” the man who identified himself as Abu Darda said in the call. “The attack was carefully scripted and executed. We have said it several times that the UN is one of our prime targets.”
Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bombings in recent months in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.
Such attacks, however, have not targeted international organisations, and Friday’s bomb marked a new level of audaciousness.
“So far, we have 18 dead,” Mike Zuokumor, police commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory told journalists.
At least 60 wounded were being treated at the national hospital, a radio report said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.