The confirmed toll from the twin bombing of a bus station near the capital Abuja on Monday is 71 killed and 124 wounded so far, police spokesman Frank Mba said. The twin blasts rocked the Nyanya station roughly five kilometres (three miles) south of Abuja at 6:45 am (0545 GMT) and destroyed some 30 vehicles, mostly large passenger buses, officials said.
The victims of the blasts included commuters on their way to work who were already seated in the high capacity buses operated by the Abuja Automobile Management Company, itinerant traders of soft drinks and food items, commercial motorcycle riders and their passengers and other commuters waiting by the roadside for vehicles. Scores of vehicles parked within the park were also affected. P.M. NEWS observed that the vehicles inside which the bomb was planted were parked less than a metre to the high capacity buses. P.M. NEWS cannot confirm whether the rigged vehicles were parked at the garage overnight or early this morning.
But there are usually long queues of commuters waiting to board the high capacity buses which are the only commercial vehicles allowed to enter into the main Abuja town every morning. An official of the transport company told journalists that about four of the buses, each with capacity for over 50 passengers were loading commuters going to different parts of Abuja main city when the bomb went off.
The head of search and rescue operations at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Charles Otegbade, said one of the blasts “emanated from a vehicle” within the station but the precise nature of the explosion was not immediately clear.He told journalists that his office got an alert about the explosion around 6.45 am.
No group has yet claimed the attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on Boko Haram, an insurgent group blamed for killing thousands across northern and central Nigeria since 2009.
Boko Haram bombers have attacked Nigeria’s capital in the past, most prominently in a 2011 car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the city that killed at least 26 people.
Dozens of people were killed in the bomb blasts in Nyanya Bus Park this morning,” NEMA spokesman Manzo Ezekiel told AFP, adding that witnesses reported hearing two separate explosions.
The explosions left a hole roughly four feet (120 centimetres) deep and scattered personal items as well as human flesh across the compound.
Bus parks have been among Boko Haram’s most favoured targets, including multiple, coordinated bombings at a terminal in the northern city of Kano last year that killed more than 40 people.
The explosion on Monday “affected quite a number of people because it was still early in the morning and there was a lot of traffic,” Otegbade told reporters at the scene.
The dead victims and the injured were taken to hospital by ambulances and vans belonging to the police, the Vehicle Inspection Office, Federal Road Safety Commission, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the National Emergency Management Agency. Dead victims of the blast were taken to the National Hospital Abuja and Asokoro General Hospital. Those injured were taken to nearby Nyanya General Hospital.
Men of the Nigeria Police, Civil Defence and the military cordoned off the scene of the blast.
Eyewitnesses told PM NEWS that some of the dead victims of the blast were ripped apart while some were burnt beyond recognition by the bomb which could be heard several kilometers away. Some eyewitnesses put the number of people killed by the blast at between 50 and 200. But the police spokesman, Mba confirmed only 71 dead.
P.M. NEWS however observed emergency workers picking shards of flesh from the high capacity buses damaged beyond repair by the blast. The blood of the victims littered the vehicles and some parts of the garage. Frank Mba, police spokesman said that investigation into the incident has already commenced while the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar had ordered his men to beef up security in public buildings and other vulnerable spots in the city. Meawhile President Jonathan has ordered the security agencies to beef up security in Abuja following the bomb blast.
Reuben Abati spokesperson to President Jonathan said in a statement he issued on behalf of the President few hours after the blast. “President Jonathan is saddened by the loss of lives in Nyanya, Abuja bombing. He has ordered heightened security in Abuja following the bombing. The President also expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and directed the medical services to do their best to save the life of the injured,” said Abati.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the scene to assess the damage.
Jonathan has faced mounting criticism over the continuing Boko Haram violence.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has in recent video messages vowed to widen his insurgency outside the group’s northeastern stronghold. An escalation of violence in or near Abuja would pile further pressure on the embattled leader. via pmnewsnigeria.com/