Blasts in central Nigerian city Jos kill 10

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2014 1:48 PM

By Adamu Jonah

JOS (Reuters) - Two explosions in the main business district of the central Nigerian city of Jos killed 10 people on Tuesday, according to police and a Reuters reporter on the scene.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts, although Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has set off bombs across the north and centre of Nigeria in an increasingly bloody insurgency, is likely to be a prime suspect.

Ten bodies, burned beyond recognition, were strewn across the scene at Terminus, the downtown area of Jos housing shops, some offices and a market. Police commissioner for Jos confirmed the death toll of 10, with several injured taken to hospital.

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the blasts, calling the perpetrators "cruel and evil."

"The government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror, and this administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization," he said in a statement emailed by his office.

Boko Haram grabbed world headlines with the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls a month ago from a remote village in the northeast. Britain, the United States and France have pledged to help rescue them.

Jos has been relatively free of attacks by the group, but it claimed responsibility for a bomb in a church in the highland city, as well as two other places, on Christmas Day in 2011.

The city is in the heart of Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where its largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet, and surrounding Plateau state is often a flashpoint for violence, although the Christmas bomb failed to trigger any.

Tuesday's blasts occurred 15 minutes apart in the afternoon, burning several shops to the ground, shattering windows and spreading rubble in the road. Police sirens wailed as officers rushed to the scene.

"There was a loud bang that shook my whole house. Then smoke was rising," said Jos resident Veronica Samson. "There were bodies in the streets and people rushing injured to hospital in their cars."

Boko Haram has stepped up its use of explosives in attacks that are spreading far beyond its core area of operation, including two in the capital Abuja last month. A suicide car bomber killed five people on a street of bars and restaurants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Sunday evening, in an area mostly inhabited by southern Christians.

(Reporting by Adamu Jonah and Buhari Bello; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Mark Heinrich)