According to police officials, two blasts rocked the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, in what is the latest unrest to occur in the region. Emergency services reported Monday that at least 44 people were killed in the twin bomb blasts, which comes after a wave of mass casualty attacks blamed on Boko Haram.
Plateau state police spokesman Abuh Emmanuel confirmed “…that there were two explosions in Jos this evening. One happened at the Bauchi motor park and the other at Yantaya, near the mosque.” He further indicated that he could not immediately state if there were any causalities, adding that police officers have been sent to the scene. On Monday, Mohammed Abdulsalam, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) disclosed that “at the moment we have 44 dead bodies and 47 others injured from the scenes of the two attacks.”
Witnesses have reported that the first explosion went off around 9:14 PM (2014 GMT) at Bauchi road shopping complex, which is located near the Bauchi motor park and the University of Jos. It targeted the packed Shagalinku restaurant located in the shopping complex, which is popular with travellers from the northeast. One witnesses disclosed that the second explosion was heard four minutes later, adding that it occurred close to the popular Yantaya Mosque. The witness reported that a van and several other vehicles were seen transporting some of the dead and injured to the local hospital. Another witnesses, who was at the Yantaya mosque for the “Tafsir,” or Koran commentary session, reported that a number of attackers opened fire from outside at about 9:20 PM (2020 GMT), adding “they fired an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) at the mosque but it hit a metal bar on the facade and exploded…Many people were killed and injured from the shooting and the explosion.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s bomb attacks in Jos, which is the capital of Plateau state. Boko Haram however has repeatedly attacked the city in the past. In February, at least seventeen people were killed when a twin blast hit a bus park in the city.
Sunday night’s twin blasts come just hours after a suicide attack on a church in the northeastern city of Potiskum on Sunday, which left five people dead, including the pastor, a woman and two children.
According to an unofficial count, Sunday’s bombings took the death toll from raids, explosions and suicide attacks to 267 this month along, and to 524 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on 29 May. While President Buhari has repeatedly vowed that he will crush the militant’s six-year insurgency, the rising death toll, coupled with increasing attacks and the military being unable to prevent them, the president is now under growing pressure to react quickly.
Police and residents reported Tuesday that an explosion ripped through a football viewing centre in Damaturu, northern Nigeria, as fans were gathering to watch a World Cup game.
The blast, which occurred at the Crossfire venue, in the Nayi-Nawa area of the state capital of Yobe, occurred shortly after the tournament began at 8:00 PM (1900 GMT). Unconfirmed reports have indicated that a suicide bomber has killed at least twenty-one people and wounded twenty-seven. Sanusi Ruf’ai, police commissioner for Yobe state, confirmed the attack, stating “there was an explosion outside a soccer viewing center here in Damaturu at around 8:15 PM….Our men have deployed to the scene but it’s too early for us to give details.” On the ground sources have reported that the area has been cordoned off and that police and soldiers are investigating, while eyewitnesses have indicated that the suicide bomber, who was in a tricycle taxi, detonated explosives as people were watching the match. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, suspicions have fallen on Boko Haram, as the militant group has previously targeted big screen venues showing soccer matches.
The latest blast comes after at least two Nigerian states banned viewing centers on security grounds following previous similar attacks, which have been blamed on Boko Haram militants. Last week, authorities in Adamawa state closed viewing centers, where large crowds gather to watch the matches on large screens. The central state of Plateau followed suit days later. The decision by authorities to close the viewing centers is in response to repeated threats by the militant group and a blast that occurred earlier this month. A bomb went off after a football match in the town of Mubi in Adamawa state. The incident killed at least forty people. In May, three people were killed in a blast outside a viewing center that was showing the European Champions League final in the city of Jos, the capital of Plateau state, while in April, suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed a packed venue in Potiskum, in northeastern Yobe state, shooting dead two people as they watched the Champions League quarter-final matches.
Boko haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has previously preached against football and has threated to carry out attacks during this year’s World Cup football tournament. In several video clips, he described football and music as a Western ploy to distract Muslims from their religion. While football is Nigeria’s national sport, and has many followers, many residents living in the northern regions of the country have indicated that they will watch the World Cup at home because of fears of Boko Haram attacks.
Similar fears have also put a number of east African nations on high alert amidst fears that Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked-al-Shabaab will carryout similar attacks during football screenings.
Earlier this week, officials in Britain released warnings to citizens in several east African nations, including Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, warning of the threat of terrorist attacks at public screenings of the World Cup games. A statement released by Britain’s Foreign Office indicated “previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed,” adding that crowded areas, including “transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars” are possible targets for the militant group.