A bombing at a crowded Nigerian bus station killed 71 people today on the outskirts of the capital city of Abuja. This is the largest attack ever this close to the central African state’s capital. Though there have been no claims of responsibility yet, it’s likely that the Islamist group Boko Haram is the culprit. Reuters reports:
“In some ways it’s not a big surprise,” said Kole Shettima, director of the Abuja office of U.S. charitable institution, the MacArthur Foundation. “The situation has been escalating.“It’s a statement that they are still around and they can attack Abuja when they want, and instill fear.” […]Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of largely Muslim northern Nigeria means broadly “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and has forged ties with al Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.
Nigeria’s Islamist dilemma is turning into one of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts, and we’ve had to report on its deadly violence far too many times in recent months. A few weeks ago, suicide bombers targeted an oil facility in the country’s northeastern region, where, as Reuters notes, the group’s destruction has largely been concentrated. That attack on the state’s cherished oil industry and today’s attack near the political capital mark a more urgent escalation in the conflict for the central government. The state has been criticized for a lackluster response to the insurgency, which has typically inflicted rural communities. President Goodluck Jonathan’s much publicized military offensive against the group, which launched in October, doesn’t seem to be weakening the insurgents. Just this year, more than 1,500 people have died in the violence, according to Amnesty International.Nigeria now outranks South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. But attacks like this one are a reminder of the great lengths the country has yet to go to reach real stability.