Explosion rocks mall in Nigerian capital

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — An explosion blamed on Islamic
extremists rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and
police said 21 people were killed.
The blast came as Nigerians
were preparing to watch their country’s Super Eagles play Argentina at
the World Cup in Brazil. Many shops at the mall have TV screens but it
was unclear if the explosion was timed to coincide with the match, which
started an hour later.
Witnesses said body parts were scattered
around the exit to Emab Plaza, in Abuja’s upscale Wuse 2 suburb. One
witness said he thought the bomb was dropped at the entrance to the mall
by a motorcyclist. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of
Soldiers shot and killed one suspect as he tried to
escape on a power bike and police detained a second suspect, Mike Omeri,
the government spokesman for the insurgency, said in a statement.
Billows of black smoke could be seen from a mile (kilometer) away, and police said 17 vehicles were burnt
out in the blast.
heard the explosion and (felt) the building shaking," said Shuaibu
Baba, who had a narrow escape. He said he rushed downstairs to find that
the driver who had dropped him a few minutes earlier was dead. "I asked
the driver to come with me, and he said ‘No,’ he would wait for me in
the car."
Police Superintendent Frank Mba said 17 people were wounded and 21 bodies were recovered.
Omeri urged people to be calm and said the government was doing everything possible "to check the
activities of insurgents."
is the latest in a series of violent attacks blamed on Islamic
extremists. Nigerian security forces appear incapable of curtailing the
near-daily attacks concentrated in the northeast, where Boko Haram
extremists have their stronghold.
On Tuesday night, extremists in
the northeast attacked a military checkpoint and killed at least 21
soldiers and five civilians, witnesses and a hospital worker said
A soldier who escaped said the militants also abducted
several of his colleagues in the attack near Damboa village, 85
kilometers (53 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
extremists attacked in a convoy of more than 30 trucks armed with
anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers and powerful submachine guns
while the soldiers had only AK-47 assault rifles, said the soldier, who
spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to
He said he saw at least 16 of his colleagues gunned
down before he ran away. A worker at Maiduguri’s main hospital said he
counted the corpses of 21 soldiers brought to the morgue.
federal intelligence officer also confirmed the attack, saying the
soldiers were overrun. He also is not allowed to speak to reporters.
spokesman for vigilante groups fighting Boko Haram, Muhammed Gava, said
the extremists also killed five elderly men in the village that has
been deserted by most inhabitants.
Abuja is in the center of
Nigeria and the militants have spread their attacks to the capital. Two
separate explosions in Abuja in April killed more than 120 people and
wounded about 200 at a busy bus station. Both were claimed by Boko
Haram, which has threatened further attacks.
A bomb at a medical
college in northern Kano killed at least eight people on Monday. Last
week, at least 14 died in a bomb blast at a World Cup viewing site in
Damaturu, a state capital in the northeast. In May, twin car bombs in
the central city of Jos left more than 130 people dead; and a car bomb
at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of Kano, a
Muslim city.
Boko Haram attracted international condemnation for
the April mass abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls, and is blamed
for this week’s abductions of another 91 people — 31 boys and 60 girls
and women with toddlers as young as 3.
Nigeria’s military and
government claim to be winning the war in the 5-year-old insurgency but
the tempo and deadliness of attacks has increased this year, killing
more than 2,000 people so far compared to an estimated 3,600 killed over
the past four years.
Omeri, the government spokesman, said security agencies are "handling the situation" at
Wednesday’s bombing.
said that "every step is being taken by the government to check the
activities of insurgents in the country and advised Nigerians to remain
vigilant and conscious of movement of unidentified people."
Haram wants to install an Islamic state in Nigeria, a West African
nation whose 170 million people are almost equally divided between
Muslims who are dominant in the north and Christians in the south.
Umar reported from Maiduguri, Nigeria.