18 killed, 41 injured in blasts near Abuja: emergency services

Abuja – Two explosions that ripped through the outskirts of Abuja have left at least 18 people dead and 41 wounded, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Saturday.

Both Muhammadu Buhari and US embassy condemned the attacks.

“The death toll is now 18 because three people died in the hospitals this morning while 41 others were injured and are receiving treatment in the hospitals,” NEMA spokesman Sani Datti told AFP.

The agency had earlier given a death toll of 15 and 41 wounded following the blasts late on Friday near police station in Kuje and at a bus stop in Nyanya, in an area previously targeted by the Boko Haram Islamist group.

Datti told AFP a rescue operation ended Friday night.

“We have completed evacuation of the victims. What is left now is to allow the special anti-bomb unit of the police to do their job. They are combing the scenes for fragments of explosives for their investigation,” he said.

He said the entire area had been cordoned off.

The police said Saturday the bombings were the handiwork of suicide bombers.

“Preliminary investigations revealed the bomb blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers – a male and a female,” the police said in a statement.

It said the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, had ordered massive stop-and-search activities in the city and advised residents not to panic.

“Following the incidents the police high command ordered an immediate deployment of police explosives ordnance disposal units to the scenes to prevent further destructions,” it said.

It urged Nigerians to be vigilant and report any suspicious persons or objects to the security agencies.

The police chief vowed to work with other security agencies to rid the country of extremism, adding that “Nigeria will not accommodate terrorists’ acts.”

Abuja was last attacked on June 25 last year, when 22 people were killed in a blast at a popular shopping centre in the heart of the capital.

Boko Haram later claimed the attack and a separate strike later that day in the Apapa port district of the financial capital, Lagos.

The Abuja blasts came a day after at least 10 people were killed when four suicide bombers blew themselves up Maiduguri, and 11 villagers died in neighbouring Adamawa state.

The bombings underscored the persistent threat posed by the Islamist militants, despite claims of military successes in recent weeks in driving them out of captured territory, arrests and mass surrenders.

An AFP tally puts the death toll at more than 1,260 since Buhari took office on May 29 with a pledge to crush the insurgency.

He has given his top commanders until early November to end the fighting, which has claimed at least 17,000 lives and made more than 2.5 million homeless since 2009.

The United States condemned the blasts and other recent Boko Haram deadly attacks.

“The United States strongly condemns the dual explosions in the Nyanya and Kuje areas of Abuja on October 2, and the suicide bombings and militant attacks in Maiduguri and Adamawa on October 1,” the US embassy said in a statement here.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured,” it said.

“These tragic events are stark reminders that violent extremists will stop at nothing to inflict horrific and indiscriminate harm upon innocent lives. In particular, Boko Haram’s reign of terror and sheer brutality have left thousands dead and millions displaced,” it added.