19 April 2014

Nigeria: Boko Haram Claims Abuja Attack That Killed 75

Photo: Leadership
Burnt-out busses after an attack at a bus station packed with morning commuters in Abuja

Islamists have claimed responsibility for the explosion that killed at least 75 in Nigeria this week. The group Boko Haram believes the legacy of colonialism has corrupted Africans and only Islamic law can save Nigeria.

In a video released Saturday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau - declared a global terrorist by the United States, which has placed a bounty on his head worth $7 million (5 million euros) - spoke in both Arabic and northern Nigeria's Hausa language, with a Kalashnikov resting on his left shoulder. He threatened further attacks.

"We are in your city, but you don't know where we are," Shekau says in the video.

Monday's bus station bombing killed at least 75 people on the outskirts of the capital, Abuja, hours before gunmen kidnapped 129 girls aged 15 to 18 from a school in northeastern Borno state, Boko Haram's base. In a separate attack last week on Sunday, Boko Haram allegedly killed scores more people.

Hostages still sought

In the 28-minute video, Shekau makes no mention of the young women kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on Monday, but the military, local officials and girls who have escaped have blamed that attack on Boko Haram. Officials say dozens have broken free, but 85 remain unaccounted for. Parents and townspeople have joined security forces and vigilantes searching the dangerous Sambisa Forest for the kidnapped girls.

Chibok, in southern Borno, has a sizeable minority Christian population, but the kidnapped girls included Muslims as well. Boko Haram's name translates as "Western education is forbidden," and attacks targeting schools and universities have become a prominent feature of the group's five-year uprising to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria. In previous attacks, Boko Haram has massacred students while they slept in their dormitories, but the group had never carried out a mass abduction specifically targeting girls.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for more than 1,500 deaths and multiple abductions since the start of 2014. The terrorist threat is just one of many challenges Nigeria faces.

mkg/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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