Fuel tankers explode in Nigeria's nervous capital

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2011 1:51 PM
Fuel tankers explode in Nigeria's nervous capital

Two tanker trucks exploded during rush hour Wednesday in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, seriously injuring one person in a city still tense after repeated threats and bombings by a radical Muslim sect.

Panicked passers-by fled both scenes but police and rescue officials told The Associated Press the two explosions bore no signs of sabotage. Firefighters sprayed down the burning remains of the tankers with foam to keep the flames from spreading. Plumes of smoke drifted over the city.

One tanker exploded at a gas station in the Wuse neighborhood, while the other caught fire near a gas station on a busy street in Abuja's Maitama neighborhood, witnesses said. One person was hospitalized with serious injuries, said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

"The fires were quenched," he said.

Police were investigating the cause of the explosions.

Police spokesman Jimoh Moshood said the tanker in Wuse had been pumping fuel into the gas station when it exploded.

"There must be some electrical problem, but we are not certain," Moshood said.

The explosions frightened residents already unnerved by the threat posed by a radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram. The U.S. Embassy warned earlier this month that the group, which is waging an increasingly bloody sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government, might target three luxury hotels in the city.

Boko Haram has attacked sites in Abuja before. A suicide bomber claimed by the group attacked the U.N. headquarters in August, killing 24 people, while another Boko Haram bomber targeted the federal police headquarters in June.

The sect wants the strict implementation of Shariah law across Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people split largely between a Christian south and a Muslim north.

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Jon Gambrell can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.