Twin blasts at a bus station packed with morning commuters on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital yesterday killed at least 71 people and wounded dozens, in what officials said appeared to be the latest attack by Boko Haram Islamists.
The explosions rocked the Nyanya station about 5km south of Abuja at 6:45am and destroyed about 30 vehicles, mostly large passenger buses, officials and a reporter said.
The head of search and rescue operations at Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, Charles Otegbade, said one of the blasts “emanated from a vehicle” within the station, but the precise nature of the explosion was not immediately clear.
No group has yet claimed the apparent attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on Boko Haram, an insurgent group blamed for killing thousands across northern and central Nigeria since 2009.
The Islamists have attacked Nigeria’s capital in the past, most prominently in a 2011 car bombing at the UN headquarters in the city that killed at least 26 people.
Yesterday’s explosions left a hole about 1.2m deep and scattered personal items, as well as human flesh, across the compound, witnesses said.
“I saw bodies taken away in open trucks,” witness Yakubu Mohammed said.
A second witness, Suleiman Aminu, said he believed the initial blast came from a minibus parked near larger commuter vehicles, and that commuters who had lined up to board were the likely target.
Nyanya is a densely populated suburb of Abuja, filled with government and civil society workers who cannot afford the city’s exorbitant rents.
Boko Haram violence has cost more than 1,500 lives already this year, but most of the unrest has affected villages in the remote northeast.