Twin blasts at a packed bus station in Nigeria’s capital on Monday have killed more than seventy people.
Officials reported Monday that more than seventy people have been killed in two blasts that were carried out in crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Abbas Idris, head of the Abuja Emergency Relief Agency, has stated that so far officials have confirmed 71 people dead and 124 injured, however these numbers are likely to rise in the coming days. The cause of the explosions, which occurred at the Nyanya Bus Park roughly 5 kilometres (three miles) south of Abuja, was not immediately clear however security officials at the scene are currently working to determine the cause of the explosions. For now, they are suspecting that the explosion occurred inside a vehicle. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, officials in Abuja believe Boko Haram militants are likely behind it.
The incident occurred as commuters were about to board buses and taxis to go to work in central Abuja. The blast ripped a hole four feet deep (1.2 metres) in the ground of Nyanya Motor Park and destroyed more than thirty vehicles, causing secondary explosions as their fuel tanks ignited and burned.
The capital city been previously attacked by Boko Haram insurgents. In 2011, it carried out a suicide bombing at a United Nations building in Abuja, killing at least 26 six peoples. The incident has been one of the group’s most prominent attacks. More recently however, the group’s violence has been concentrated in the remote north eastern region of the country. If Monday’s attack is confirmed by Boko Haram, the attack on the outskirts of Abuja would cast further doubt on the military’s claims that the insurgents have been weakened and lack the capacity to strike prominent targets.
This year, Boko Haram militants have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north eastern Nigeria. Although the Nigerian government launched a military operation in May last year, aimed at ending the near four year insurgency, since then, the militants have been pushed out of the major city centres in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and have relocated into the villages and surrounding areas where they have continued to carry out violent attacks. They have also been suspected of crossing the porous borders between Nigeria and Cameroon, where they have taken shelter from the on going military operations and where they have carried out attacks.