At least 118 killed as bombings rip through Nigerian city

No immediate claim of responsibility but attacks bear hallmarks Boko Haram

Crowds gather at the scene of an explosion at Terminus Market in Jos, Nigeria, where more than 100 people were killed.  Photograph: EPA

Crowds gather at the scene of an explosion at Terminus Market in Jos, Nigeria, where more than 100 people were killed. Photograph: EPA

 

At least 118 people were killed in two blasts today in the city of Jos, Nigeria, the country’s national emergency management agency said, raising the death toll from 46 reported earlier.

“We’ve now recovered 118 bodies from the rubble,” said Mohammed Abdulsalam, co-ordinator of the agency in Jos. “This could rise by morning, as there is still some rubble we haven’t yet shifted.”

Two explosions earlier 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 Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has set off bombs across the country in its brutal campaign to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram has dominated international headlines after kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls from a remote northeastern 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 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.

“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 10 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,” 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.

Boko Haram has recently stepped up its brutal campaign that has left more than 1,500 dead in the first three months of this year alone. – (Guardian service/Reuters)