UK & World News

  • 26 June 2014, 0:00

Nigeria: 21 Killed In Shopping Mall Explosion

At least 21 people have been killed and 17 injured in a blast at a shopping centre in the Nigerian capital Abuja, according to police.

Witnesses said body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upmarket Wuse 11 suburb.

Billows of black smoke could be seen from a mile away.

"I heard the explosion and (felt) the building shaking," said Shuaibu Baba, who was inside when the bomb went off.

He said he rushed downstairs to find the driver who had dropped him off 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 21 bodies had been recovered and 17 people had been hurt.

He added one suspect had been arrested and investigations had already been launched.

The blast came as Nigerians were preparing to watch their country's football team, the 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.

One witness said he thought the bomb was dropped at the entrance to the mall by a motorcyclist, but Supt Mba was unable to confirm this.

The explosion is the latest of a series of violent attacks blamed on Islamic extremists.

Around 120 people were killed in two separate explosions in Abuja in April.

Both were claimed by the terror group Boko Haram, who mainly operate in the northeast where they are based.

On Monday a bomb at a medical college in Kano, in the north, killed at least eight people.

Last week, at least 14 died in a bomb blast at a World Cup viewing site in Damaturu, a state capital in the northeast.

In May, twin car bombs in the central city of Jos left more than 130 people dead; and a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of Kano, a Muslim city.

Boko Haram attracted international condemnation for the mass kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

It has been blamed for this week's abductions of another 91 people -  31 boys and 60 girls and women including children as young as three.

Nigeria's military claims to be winning the five-year battle against the insurgents but the number of attacks has increased this year, with more than 2,000 people already killed compared to an estimated 3,600 in the previous four years.

Boko Haram wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose 170 million population is divided almost equally between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

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