26 June 2014

Nigeria: Anger and Sorrow At Abuja Blast

Investigators have been probing the wreckage of a bomb blast which killed 21 people in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Residents fear for their personal safety and are angry with authorities for not preventing the attack.

"You had better leave, we don't want to talk now. We are very angry," a thickset man shouted into a reporter's microphone while clenching his fist. His friends nearby nod their heads. They are part of a group of around 100 people who had gathered near the Emab Plaza shopping center. It is situated in Wuse 2 in the center of Abuja on a busy shopping street. Traffic jams are frequent here, especially towards evening, when commuters drive back to the suburbs .

But now the road in front of the two-storey shopping complex has been cordoned off by yellow police tape that flutters in the wind. On Wednesday 25.06.2014), at around 4 pm local time, a bombed exploded here killing at least 21 people. Police say another 17 were injured. Later, police investigators working under the glare of searchlights hunted amid the wreckage for clues. The number of wrecked cars littered around the beige-colored building testifies to the force of the explosion. Police say 17 cars were burnt out.

Suspicion falls on Boko Haram

The attack in Wuse 2 is the third this year in the Nigerian capital. In April and May, 120 people were killed in two attacks in Nyanya, a suburb in southern Abuja.

Hours after Wednesday's attack, many local people were still in a state of shock. Passersby are discussed it in heated voices. Dozens of police tried to calm them down. One man called across to the police "I only want to find out what happened to a friend of mine. He wanted to go shopping here."

Chuks Ekwireke works for Emab Plaza management. "I was some distance away. I was in a shop. Suddenly we heard the explosion and I saw fire and smoke. When I came out of the shop, people were starting to run," he said. Witnesses reported seeing a small car parked before the entrance. Some had even suspected it could contain hidden explosives.

Ekwireke then said what many people evidently feel. "Nobody is safe in Abuja any more."

The Nigerian authorities seem powerless to prevent an unrelenting stream of attacks blamed on Boko Haram Islamists

It is impossible to predict such attacks as the last few weeks have shown. Boko Haram has been attacking remote villages in the north of the country near the border with Cameroon. The region is insecure, but no move has been made to bring in more police or military personnel. In Borno state, there have been reports of yet more kidnappings by Boko Haram. 60 people are reported to have been taken captive.

People in Abuja are not only fearful following this latest attack. They are also furious with the authorities. "The government can't tell us they don't know what is happening. They know exactly what is going wrong," businessman Abdu Kaze told DW.

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