Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Explosion Rocks Mall in Nigerian Capital

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Explosion Rocks Mall in Nigerian Capital

Article excerpt

ABUJA, Nigeria * An explosion blamed on Islamic extremists rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and police said 21 people were killed.

The blast came as Nigerians were preparing to watch their country's Super Eagles play Argentina at the World Cup in Brazil. Many shops at the mall have TV screens, but it was unclear if the explosion was timed to coincide with the match, which started an hour later.

Witnesses said body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in Abuja's upscale Wuse 2 suburb. One witness said he thought the bomb was dropped at the entrance to the mall by a motorcyclist. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Soldiers shot and killed one suspect as he tried to escape on a power bike, and police detained a second suspect, a government spokesman, Mike Omeri, said in a statement.

Billows of black smoke could be seen from a mile away, and police said 17 vehicles were burnt out in the blast.

"I heard the explosion and (felt) the building shaking," said Shuaibu Baba, who had a narrow escape. He said he rushed downstairs to find that the driver who had dropped him a few minutes earlier was dead. "I asked the driver to come with me, and he said 'No,' he would wait for me in the car."

Police Superintendent Frank Mba said 17 people were wounded and 21 bodies were recovered.

Omeri urged people to be calm and said the government was doing everything possible "to check the activities of insurgents."

It is the latest in a series of violent attacks blamed on Islamic extremists. Nigerian security forces appear incapable of curtailing the near-daily attacks concentrated in the northeast, where Boko Haram extremists have their stronghold.

On Tuesday night, extremists in the northeast attacked a military checkpoint and killed at least 21 soldiers and five civilians, witnesses and a hospital worker said Wednesday.

A soldier who escaped said the militants abducted several of his colleagues in the attack near Damboa village, 53 miles from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. …

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