Two car bombs exploded at a bustling bus terminal and market in Nigeria’s central city of Jos on Tuesday, killing at least 118 people, wounding dozens and leaving streets strewn with bloodied bodies.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the twin car bombs. But they bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group that abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls last month and has repeatedly targeted bus stations and other locations where large numbers of people gather in its campaign to impose Islamic law on Nigeria.
The second blast came half an hour after the first, killing some of the rescue workers who had rushed to the scene, which was obscured by billows of black smoke.
At least 118 people were killed and dozens wounded, according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Fires were still raging in buildings late Tuesday and authorities expect to find more bodies once firefighters get them under control, said Mohammed Abdulsalam, a coordinator for the agency.
Tensions have been rising between Christians and Muslims in Jos, the capital of Plateau state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region that divides the country into the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. It is a flashpoint for religious violence.
Lipdo said at least one of Tuesday’s blasts could have been averted if authorities had acted in time. He said a white van that held the first bomb was parked for hours in the market place, raising suspicions of vendors and others who reported it to the authorities, but nothing was done.
He said authorities also had another warning of impending violence: A man with explosives strapped to his body was arrested on Saturday and told police that many terrorists had been ordered to plant bombs around churches and public areas in Jos.