21 May 2014

‘Cruel and evil’ bombing kills over 100 in Nigeria

Bomb blasts in the Nigerian city of Jos kill at least 118 people in the latest attack appearing to bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamist group still holding more than 200 schoolgirls hostage.

The back-to-back bombings wounded a further 45 people in the crowded business district of the central Nigerian city of Jos on Tuesday, the emergency services said.

The back-to-back blast tactic, with the aim of maximising civilian casualties, has also been used by militants in other countries, including Iraq. President Goodluck Jonathan called the perpetrators of the blasts “cruel and evil”.

“The government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror, and this administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization,” he said in a statement emailed by his office.

Read more: can Nigeria protect its own people? 

But the security situation in Nigeria appears to be spiralling out of control. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Jos attack – in a city which has long been a flashpoint for clashes between Christians and Muslims – but it appears to bear the hallmarks of the Boko Haram insurgent group, which is waging an increasingly bloody campaign for an Islamic state in Nigeria.

Growing insurgency

The group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls over a month ago from their school in Borno state. Despite a global campaign and pledges of help from the international community to “#BringBackOurGirls”, little progress has been made.

Boko Haram has since abducted more girls, and an attack on a town also in Borno state earlier this month, in which insurgents opened fire in a market before attacking local homes, left 300 dead.

If the Jos attack is linked to Boko Haram, it could prove to be among the group’s deadliest attack in five years of insurrection, as well as showing the growing reach of the insurgency out of its traditional heartland in the north-east of the country.

The city has been relatively free of attacks by Boko Haram, but it claimed responsibility for a bomb in a church in the highland city, as well as two other places, on Christmas Day in 2011.