At least 16 killed by bomb attack on UN's Nigeria base

Muslim group claiming responsibility for atrocity says 'this is only the beginning'

A radical Muslim sect last night claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that gutted the United Nations head office in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, killing at least 16 people and leaving a dozen injured.

Boko Haram, which has carried out a series of terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria in the past year, called several radio stations to claim that, "this is only the beginning".

It was the first time that the group had chosen an international target. It is understood that most of the victims were Nigerian.

Eyewitnesses said that at 10am yesterday morning a vehicle that was "larger than a car" entered the compound – in which 26 UN agencies have offices – through the exit gate. The vehicle then drove straight into the lobby area of the L-shaped building in which about 400 people worked.

One office worker who was at her desk on the fourth floor described a "loud noise and dark smoke".

Kori Habib said: "All the windows broke immediately, the walls started coming down and then the ceiling. We held hands to reach the stairs and when we got to the ground floor we were having to walk around bodies to reach the exit."

Last night hospitals in Abuja were calling on members of the public to donate blood. UN officials were reluctant to speak about the incident until they had successfully traced all the members of staff.

The explosion punched a huge hole in the building. Construction workers

brought three large cranes to the site within hours of the attack, trying to pull away the concrete and rubble to find survivors. Others at the site stood around, stunned, as medical workers began carrying out what appeared to be the dead.

"This is getting out of hand," said one UN staffer. "If they can get into the UN House, they can reach anywhere."

Ali Tikko, who was in a building 100 yards from the site of the blast when it occurred, said: "I heard one big boom. I see a number of people lying on the floor – at least four or five. I cannot see if they are dead. There are a lot of security around."

The attack was condemned by US President Barack Obama as well as by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who said the victims were "people who have dedicated their lives to others".

Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, said the blast was "an attack on global peace and security". Speculation over Boko Haram's motive included anger at the Nigerian government's move on Tuesday to recognise the Libyan Transitional National Council.

There have been reports that the group, which was created around 2002, had received training in Libyan camps and support from Gaddafi's regime.

But an organisation spokesman said in June that members had trained in Somalia, which suggests a link to Al Qaeda-affiliated groups. The last time a similar target was bombed in Africa was in August 1998 when simultaneous suicide bombs exploded at the US embassies in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. They killed more than 220 people and were linked to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Osama bin Laden.

Boko Haram, from north eastern Nigeria, launched its armed wing in 2009 and has claimed responsibility for terror attacks in Nigeria. It wants Sharia rule and opposes secular government.

In July, 2009 it staged an armed uprising in Maiduguri, which was crushed by the military at the loss of some 800 lives. Since then, it has chosen targets linked to Nigerian security, chiefly ambushing military patrols. It was blamed for the suicide bombing of the Abuja police headquarters last month.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor