Bomb Kills 20 in Nigeria, Girls’ Seizure Suspect Held

(Reuters) -

A bomb in a van carrying charcoal exploded in a busy market in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people in the latest suspected attack by Islamist terrorists, witnesses said.

The blast wrecked cars and taxis on a road adjoining the market in the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

No responsibility was claimed for the blast. But in recent months, the Islamist group Boko Haram has embarrassed President Goodluck Jonathan’s government with bombings and spectacular raids, mostly in northeast Nigeria, including the mid-April abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls.

The military said earlier on Tuesday that it had arrested a number of suspected BH collaborators including a Maiduguri businessman it said was involved in the abduction of the schoolgirls.

BH has also struck at Abuja, the capital of Africa’s biggest economy, with three bombings in three months.

An explosion at a busy intersection in the north Nigerian city of Kaduna on Tuesday evening wounded two people but caused no deaths, police said. The city lies along Nigeria’s “Middle Belt,” where its largely Christian south and Muslim north meet, and it has been targeted by BH in the past.

Nigeria’s military said that the businessman it had arrested had helped the Islamist group plan several attacks, including the killing of a traditional ruler, the Emir of Gwoza.

Two women were also arrested, one of whom was accused of coordinating payments to other “operatives”.

Recent offensives against BH failed to crush the rebels, despite recent assistance from the United States and other Western allies.

BH Islamists say they want an Islamist state in Africa’s top oil producer, and the insurgency has killed thousands since 2009, destabilizing much of the northeast.