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One arrest after 21 people killed in Nigeria bombing

AFTERMATH: Security officials look at bomb wreckage in Abuja, Nigeria yesterday (June 25)

UP TO 21 people were killed by bomb blast that ripped through a bustling shopping centre in Nigeria yesterday (June 25).

The West African country’s National Information Centre said that one suspect had been arrested after the explosion outside the Emab Plaza mall in the heart of Abuja. Another was shot dead by troops as he tried to escape on a motorbike, ninemsn news channel reported.

The arrest came as Nigeria erupted into fresh mourning in the aftermath of its third bombing in just over a week.

Police spokesman (ACP) Frank Mba confirmed that 21 people were killed in the blast and 17 people were injured, Nigeria’s Daily Trust reported. He also said 17 vehicles were destroyed in the blast that took place as football fans gathered around TVs in the Wuse district ahead of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national team, play Argentina in the Brazil World Cup.

Mba, who spoke to journalists at the scene, said: “An arrest has been made and security agencies will be following up with that arrest. The building is still an active crime scene and has been cordoned off. Investigations have already commenced. The police bomb disposal squad, in conjunction with other security agencies, are already carrying out investigation.”

Mba added: “We have equally taken out measures to secure the critical infrastructure here. The shops the building and all the goods that are here and we are assuring the traders and members of the public and we will ensure that there is no looting of the shops here.”

Witnesses also told harrowing accounts of the bombing. “We heard a really loud noise and the building shook, and people started screaming and running out,” a witness Chiamaka Oham told the BBC. “We saw the smoke and people covered in blood.”

The bomb, which was detonated at 4pm in Abuja, also shattered nearby windows and left cars smouldering.
Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan rushed back to the country from a meeting in Equatorial Guinea following the bombings.

The country also faced a similar bombing on on June 18, when an explosion killed 14 football fans at an open-air World Cup viewing venue in the northern Nigerian town of Damaturu. It followed another deadly explosion just days before at a medical college in Kano in northwest Nigeria. Eight people died.

The Nigerian football team, which lost the match against Argentina but move onto the second round in the World Cup, has previously expressed its sympathy. Reacting to the June 18 bombing, the Nigerian team’s media officer, Ben Alaiya, said in statement: “Football is the biggest unifying factor in Nigeria. It is shocking that some people should engage in such callous acts by killing fellow human beings at a time that the world is in celebratory mood for the biggest sporting event in the world.

“Our heart goes out to them. We feel very pained and we want to win for them. Even if we win the trophy it would not bring back the lives that we’ve lost. The players want to win, they want to do well for those lives that were lost and for the Nigerian people who have seen football as the force to bring them together all the time.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but some news reports have speculated that this could have been an attack from Boko Haram islamist militants, who have been conducting a series of terror campaigns in Nigeria, including kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in April. Nigeria’s government has been criticised for not doing enough to deal with Boko Haram.

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