Fear grips Nigerian capital after attack in city centre
A bombing in the heart of Nigeria’s capital blamed on militant group Boko Haram raised fears of a worsening Islamist insurgency.
Security forces are struggling to prevent attacks in remote villages and near the seat of the government.
Wednesday’s blast, which killed at least 21 people, shook Emab Plaza in downtown Abuja during the afternoon rush as shoppers were buying groceries an hour ahead of the country’s World Cup match against Argentina.
A woman reacts at the scene of the bomb blast in Abuja
The explosions struck “a very prominent street and it sends a very loud message”, said Mr Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group.
“The message is that everywhere in the city is vulnerable.”
Dozens of soldiers and police guarded the Emab Plaza on Thursday, with the main road running past the plaza closed off.
Traders were denied access to their shops and the burnt out shells of cars littered the blast zone.
Shellshocked shopkeepers and witnesses swapped stories of near misses as they returned to the scene.
Nigerian police officers removing parts of the wreckage of the car used in the bombing
“I ran after a customer who was at that gate to give him his phone which he forgot in our shop,” said trader Suleiman Mohammed.
“I saw a large crowd of people there. The bomb exploded before I got back to the shop.”
The blast, at the entrance to the mall, was powerful enough to blow out windows in buildings on the opposite side of the street, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.