A suicide bombing at a state-run oil facility in northeast Nigeria has killed 15 people. No one has claimed responsibility as of yet, but Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group responsible for the recent wave of violence throughout the region, is the suspected perpetrator. Reuters reports:
Seventeen civilians and five soldiers were wounded by the blasts on Tuesday which also destroyed eight vehicles, Defense Ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade said. […]Olukolade said the bombers, believed to be from militant group Boko Haram, were driving towards the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation facility at Mule. Four bombers died.Mule is on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the cradle of the Islamist insurgency. […]“A total of 15 civilians including a member of a youth vigilante group died,” he said.
Nigeria is Africa’s leading producer of oil, and if Boko Haram has turned its attentions to the petroleum industry, it could devastate the country’s economy. Nigeria has had little success in suppressing the militant group so far, however. In January, President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his military high command due to its failure to squash Boko Haram, analysts believe. The Nigerian military launched an offensive in May to rout the extremist group, but the militants have only grown bolder in recent months. Yesterday, a car bomb exploded near Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s birthplace, killing 21 people. In late March, the group bombed a crowded marketplace near the town of Bama. The wave of attacks has left nearly 1,200 dead since July 2009, according to UN figures.Both the government and the security forces have been criticized for failing to combat the violence, much of which has been directed at civilians in Nigeria’s rural areas. But as the country’s oil fields become the target, we can expect a more aggressive response from Abuja.