Muslim extremists may have planted a bomb which struck an army barracks in Nigeria’s capital, the country’s president has said, highlighting the dangers and confusion still gripping a nation beset by violence in recent weeks.
No-one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack which killed at least four people and injured 21 others celebrating New Year’s Eve in the barracks’ open-air beer garden and market.
President Goodluck Jonathan promised those at a church service in Abuja, the oil-rich nation’s capital, he would find those responsible. However, his vague remarks seemed only to show that security agencies remain ill-prepared to halt the violence as the nation nears what could be a tumultuous April election.
“Some people say they are politicians, some say they are religious fanatics but to me they are pure criminals, they are (the) ones demons are using these days, not only in Nigeria,” Mr Jonathan said.
The blast struck the barracks, called the Mogadishu Cantonment, at around 7.30pm last night in an area of market stalls and beer parlours referred to locally as a “mammy market”, Civilians, soldiers and the occasional foreigner regularly gather there for drinks and its famous barbecued fish.
Local police spokesman Jimoh Moshood said the number of injuries in the attack had risen to 21, while four people were killed. The state-run Nigerian Television Authority reported last night that 30 people had died after the blast.
Mr Moshood acknowledged the blast seemed to target both civilians and soldiers, but declined to say where the explosive was placed. “It is too early to draw any conclusion now,” he said.
The blasts come days after a similar attack struck a nation that remains uneasily divided between Christians and Muslims.
On Christmas Eve, three bombs exploded in the central Nigerian city of Jos, killing dozens of people. That area has seen more than 500 die in religious and ethnic violence this year alone.
Members of a radical Muslim sect, known locally as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the bombings and attacks on two churches in the northern city of Maiduguri the same night, killing at least six people.