AFRICANGLOBE – At least 46 people were killed in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Tuesday after two bombs ripped through a business district packed with commuters and traders.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions, but the bombs bore the hallmarks of other attacks by Muslim terrorists Boko Haram, which has recently stepped up a bloody five-year battle campaign to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria, and kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls from a remote north-eastern school in April. In the past month, the group has set off two bomb blasts in the capital, Abuja, and another in the country’s second city, Kano.
Abdulsalam Mohd, of the Nigeria’s national emergency management agency, said several ambulances and volunteers were ferrying wounded and dead from Terminus, an area home to a teaching hospital, shops, offices and a market. He said the death toll was likely to climb as victims were being pulled from smouldering rubble at the scene.
“It happened very close to the market so most of the victims were people plying their trade. Some had children with them,” he said by phone from the scene, above the wail of sirens.
Witnesses said soldiers had erected checkpoints around the area, and firefighters were still battling to put out flames that continued to rage almost two hours after the blasts.
Bala Mohammed, a resident who was returning home from his office nearby, said the force of the first explosion threw him to the ground. “People started running to help the wounded, and ten minutes later the second one went off. It took off the roof of the market building. Many were trapped inside, it was a terrible scene.”
Stung by recent criticism over sluggish responses to attacks, the government was quick to condemn the bombings. “President [Goodluck] Jonathan assures all Nigerians that government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror, and this administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilisation,” a statement released from his office said.
Far from Boko Haram’s northern strongholds, Jos has been relatively free of attacks by the sect. The group hasn’t struck there since it attempted to ignite sectarian tensions with a series of church bombs on Christmas Day 2011. Jos is at the heart of the Nigeria’s volatile Middle Belt, where the country’s largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet.
Since Boko Haram stepped up its campaign in Nigeria more than 1,500 people have died in the first three months of this year alone. Britain, the US and France have pledged to help rescue the schoolgirls snatched from north-eastern Borno state, marking a potential military escalation in a region already under a state of emergency.
Boko Haram killed at least 105 in twin bomb blasts in the capital, Abuja, last month, while a suicide car bomber also killed five people in the northern city of Kano on Sunday evening, in an area mostly inhabited by non-Muslims.
By: Monica Mark