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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora