Explosion outside shopping mall in Nigerian capital

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 03, 2012 6:59 PM
Explosion outside shopping mall in Nigerian capital

ABUJA (Reuters) - An explosion rocked a shopping mall in an upmarket district of the Nigerian capital Abuja on Tuesday, the emergency services said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

"The officers of Search and Rescue and other response agencies are now at the scene and have cordoned off the area along Park and Shop and Banex Plaza," National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushua Shuaib said in a statement.

"So far no human casualty," he added, warning "citizens to be wary of going to the scene of (the) explosion" in the Wuse II district of Abuja, which has been periodically targeted by the Islamist sect Boko Haram.

A Reuters reporter near the scene after the explosion saw the area cordoned off by the military. Five military trucks blocked the road to the shopping mall.

"No shops were affected. It was under a tree," a soldier blocking the road said.

Just over an hour after the first blast, another blast went off, sending people scattering. Police said it was a controlled explosion by the anti-bomb squad of a second device inside the cordoned-off area.

It was the second time the capital has been struck by a blast in under two weeks. A bomb exploded outside a nightclub popular with foreigners and wealthy Nigerians in the same area of Abuja late on June 23.

That one shattered windows in nearby buildings and damaged six luxury vehicles but no one was injured.

It was not clear who was behind that or the latest blasts, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The mall is frequented by diplomats, foreign professionals and Nigeria's wealthy political elite, all of whom are potential targets for Boko Haram.

The sect has been blamed for scores of bomb attacks since it launched an uprising against the government in 2009, and has killed hundreds of people.

(Reporting by Joe Brock; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Michael Roddy)