UN building after attack
Photo: AFP

Nigeria: 16 killed in attack on UN building

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemns bombing outside organization's offices in capital city of Abuja. 'This was an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others,' he says

A car laden with explosives rammed through two gates and blew up at the United Nations' offices in Nigeria's capital Friday, killing at least 16 people and shattering part of the concrete structure.


The brazen attack, carried out as the UN offices teemed with staff, comes as Africa's most populous nation faces the growing threat of both homegrown and international terrorism. Militants from a radical Muslim sect from northeast Nigeria have carried out attacks in the country's capital, though never on a foreign target. Unrest in the country's oil-rich Niger Delta in the south has also spawned a violent militant group.


Witnesses said that a sedan rammed through two separate gates at the UN compound as guards tried to stop the vehicle. The suicide bomber inside crashed the car into the main reception area and detonated the explosives, inflicting the most damage possible, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency said.


Scene of suicide attack in Abuja (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Scene of suicide attack in Abuja (Photo: AFP)


"I saw scattered bodies," said Michael Ofilaje, a UNICEF worker at the building, which he said shook with the explosion. "Many people are dead."


'Considerable number of casualties'

The Nigerian Red Cross reported at least 16 people died in the attack, with at least 11 others injured, said Umar Mairiga, the organization's disaster management director.


The building houses about 400 employees of the UN in Nigeria, including the majority of its offices. Authorities were still trying to account for everyone in the building at the time of the blast.


Nigeria, a nation of 150 million, is split between a largely Christian south and Muslim north. In recent months, the country has faced an increasing threat from a radical Muslim sect called Boko Haram, which wants to implement a strict version of Shariah law in the nation. The sect has carried out assassinations and bombings, including the June car bombing in Abuja of the national headquarters of Nigeria's federal police that killed at least two people.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, saying he was sending his deputy, Asha-Rose Migiro, to Nigeria immediately to meet officials in Abuja.


"We do not yet have precise casualty figures but they are likely to be considerable," Ban said. "A number of people are dead; many more are wounded."


He said the bombed building housed premises for 26 UN humanitarian and development agencies.

"This was an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others," Ban said. "We condemn this terrible act, utterly."


AP and Reuters contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 08.26.11, 18:19
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