Explosion Rocks Mall in Nigerian Capital

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -

An explosion blamed on Islamic terrorists rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and police said 21 people were killed.

Soldiers shot and killed one suspect as he tried to escape on a power bike and police detained a second suspect, Mike Omeri, the government spokesman, said in a statement.

Billows of black smoke could be seen from a mile away, and police said 17 vehicles were burnt out in the blast.

Omeri urged people to be calm and said the government was doing everything possible “to check the activities of insurgents.”

It is the latest in a series of violent attacks blamed on Islamic terrorists. Nigerian security forces appear incapable of curtailing the near-daily attacks concentrated in the northeast, where Boko Haram terrorists have their stronghold.

On Tuesday night, terrorists in the northeast attacked a military checkpoint and killed at least 21 soldiers and five civilians, witnesses and a hospital worker said Wednesday.

Boko Haram attracted international condemnation for the April abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls, and is blamed for this week’s abductions of another 91 people – 31 boys and 60 girls and women with toddlers as young as 3.

Boko Haram wants to install an Islamic state in Nigeria, a West African nation whose 170 million people are almost equally divided between Muslims who are dominant in the north and Christians in the south.