As thousands of Nigerian citizens flocked to a shopping mall to enjoy a day of shopping and watch their nation compete in the World Cup, suspected terrorists had plans to ruin what should have been a joyous day of celebration for the beleaguered African nation. The Associated Press has reported that a bomb exploded at the shopping mall in the capital city of Abuja, Nigeria which killed at least 20 people, with Islamic radicals being cited as the primary suspects.
Body parts were seen throughout the exit areas of Emab Plaza, a shopping mall in the upscale suburb of Wuse 2, as police have confirmed the deaths of 21 individuals with as many as 17 badly injured. The bomb blast occurred just an hour before the Nigerian national team, dubbed the “Screaming Eagles” was set to face off against Argentina in a match that ultimately enabled the team to advance to the knock-out stage of the international tournament being held in Brazil.
A witness, speaking on the grounds of anonymity, stated that they saw what appeared to be a bomb was delivered and dropped at the mall’s entrance by an individual on motorcycle. Mike Omeria, a government spokesman, reported that soldiers shot and killed a suspected participant as he tried to escape by motorcycle and have detained a second suspect.
The attack comes a little more than 24 hours after Islamic extremist in the Boko Haram stronghold area near Damboa village, in the northeast of the country attacked a military checkpoint killing at least 21 Nigerian soldiers and five non-military civilians. A soldier who escaped the attack claimed that a number of his fellow servicemen were captured and may be being held by Islamist groups.
For a country reeling from the worldwide attention of the Boko Haram led kidnapping of Christian schoolgirls, the latest round of violence is a grim reminder of the instability of the nation, despite many outward signs of a growing economy. Many Nigerians were enjoying the festive mood given its national soccer teams solid play in the World Cup. Despite losing its final group-stage match against Argentina, they have earned enough points to advance to the next round and carry the hopes of a nation in desperate need of good news to celebrate.
Today’s attacks also send signals that Boko Haram and other radical Islamist groups are advancing despite increased government efforts. While the groups have traditionally maintained a strong presence in the northeast, today’s bombing hints at a continued shift in strategy to take the fight to the capital city of Abuja. In April at least 120 people were killed in explosions at a frequently used bus station. In addition to the deaths, more than 200 people were injured in attacks which Boko Haram has taken credit for.
Attacks by radical Islamist groups have claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people this year alone. Still, Omeri insists the government is handling the situation and maintains an upper hand, “every step is being taken by the government to check the activities of insurgents in the country and advised Nigerians to remain vigilant and conscious of movement of unidentified people.”
The goal of Boko Harm is to overrun the Christian dominated southern end of the country and declare an Islamic Republic. In addition to the obvious concerns for human rights, experts predict this would upset he tremendous economic growth Nigeria has enjoyed over the past few years. This year Nigeria surpassed South Africa and Egypt as the continents leading economy.
By Dignitas News Service