News / Africa

Nigerian Blasts Kill at Least 25; Islamists Suspected

Reuters
— Five explosions at a bus park in northern Nigeria's main city of Kano killed at least 25 people on Monday, a Reuters witness said, in an area where Islamist sect Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against the government.

The coordinated bombing came as an audio tape emerged of a man saying he was the father of a family of seven French tourists kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.

On the tape he read out a threat by them to increase kidnappings and suicide bombings in Cameroon, if authorities there detain more of the group's followers.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, has killed hundreds in gun and bomb attacks since it intensified its insurgency two years ago.

The sect and other related Islamist groups have become a threat to Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, and Western interests there, and are increasingly menacing its neighbours like Cameroon.

The blasts in Kano destroyed several buses in the Sabon Gari area, mostly inhabited by immigrants from Nigeria's largely Christian south, the Reuters witness said. Military and police cordoned off the area after the blasts.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Boko Haram, which has frequently attacked the city, was a prime suspect. A spokesman for security forces in Kano state, Ikedehia Iwehia, said dead and wounded were being evacuated.

The sect often targets Christians.

"I ran for my dear life and managed to get out of the park after the second blast. Many people are lying dead. See, my clothes are covered in blood," said witness Ibrahim Bello, holding up a blood-soaked shirt.

AUDIO TAPE

The French family was kidnapped from north Cameroon last month but is believed to be being held in Nigeria. Boko Haram has a presence in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, where the four meet on the threshold of the Sahara.

Expanding attacks in Cameroon, a major oil, coffee and cocoa exporter, would further destabilise the region.

In the tape obtained by Reuters on Monday and whose authenticity was being checked by the French Foreign Ministry, the man believed to be Tanguy Moulin-Fournier appealed to Cameroon to free Boko Haram prisoners as a condition of his family's release.

"They don't want to enter in conflict with Cameroon. However, if you arrest their men again in Cameroon, they will multiply kidnapping and suicide bombing operations more in Cameroon than in Nigeria," he said.

"We have been detained for 25 days. The living conditions are harsh and hot in the desert. We are losing strength every day and are becoming sick. We cannot stay long like this," he said, adding that his youngest child was only four.

The tape is preceded by a message in the northern Hausa language by a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, saying unless Nigeria and Cameroon release prisoners from the sect, the French hostages will never be set free.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabious visited Nigeria and Cameroon over the weekend to discuss the hostage crisis. Eight French nationals are being held in northern Nigeria - the family plus another being held by Islamist group Ansaru.

The proliferation of kidnappings in parts of northern Nigeria and its neighbours have highlighted the growing risk posed by violent Islamist groups to Western interests.

Western governments fear ties with groups elsewhere in the region are drawing Nigerian Islamists towards a more explicitly anti-Western agenda, like that of al Qaeda's north African wing, especially since France launched an operation to flush them out of northern Mali in January.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan said on Monday that some of the seven other hostages believed to have been killed by Islamist group Ansaru this month might actually still be alive and the government has been working to rescue them.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid