14 killed in Nigeria bomb blast
DAMATURU, Nigeria (AP) – Survivors of a bomb blast at an illegal World Cup viewing site in northeast Nigeria that killed at least 14 people said today the force of the explosion blew off limbs and knocked people senseless.
Unrelated to the attack, police said security forces arrested nearly 500 people, including a “terror kingpin” in the southeast of the country.
At least 26 people were wounded in last night’s blast as soccer fans were viewing the Brazil-Mexico match in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, police said.
“The bomb just threw me and I didn’t even know where I was,” survivor Babagana Mohammed said. He recovered consciousness in the hospital.
FIFA offered “sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and friends”.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident in Nigeria. FIFA condemns any form of violence,” the international soccer governing body said in a statement.
Another wounded victim, Musa Mohammed, said some people lost limbs in the blast. He said he had stopped by to buy airtime for his cell-phone when a normal evening turned nightmarish.
“I stopped at the viewing centre to buy a recharge card and suddenly the blast went off. It was just like a flash of light and many people were killed. Some were amputated … But thank God mine was a lesser injury.”
Witnesses said a suicide bomber drove a tricycle taxi packed with explosives into the area. But Police Assistant Superintendent Nathan Cheghan said the explosion came from a car parked and abandoned on the road in front.
Cheghan said such viewing sites were banned in Yobe state two months ago because they have become a target of Boko Haram, an armed Islamic group that wants to turn Nigerian into an Islamic state.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but he blamed Boko Haram.
The government spokesman on the insurgency, Mike Omeri, said today that Boko Haram plans to attack crowded areas in Abuja, the capital in the centre of the country, with petrol tankers loaded with improvised explosive devices. Omeri spoke at a daily news briefing.
Two separate car bombs in April killed about 100 people in Abuja.