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Nigeria Orders Increased Airport Security after Failed US Plane Bombing

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Gilbert da Costa

The Nigerian government has enhanced security checks at its airports after a young Nigerian man tried to blow up a U.S. airliner.

Nigerian Information Minister Dora Akunyili told reporters a range of measures have been introduced to boost security at airports in response to the failed attack.

"We want to assure everybody that our airports are very safe, having just passed American Investigation and Security Administration audit in November 2009.  However, in the light of the new development, we have reinforced our security systems in all our airports," she said.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student with alleged links to al-Qaida, tried to detonate explosives just before a U.S. jetliner landed in Detroit on a trip from Amsterdam Friday.  Abdulmutallab began his journey in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

The Nigerian government ordered security agencies to investigate the incident and said they would cooperate fully with the American authorities.

Abdulmutallab is the son of a prominent Nigerian figure.  The father had reported his concerns about his son's extreme religious views to the U.S. embassy in Abuja.

Information Minister Akunyili described the 70-year-old former government minister and top banker as a responsible and respected Nigerian with a true Nigerian spirit.

"The man in question has lived outside Nigeria for a while. He sneaked into Nigeria on the 24th of December 2009 and left the same day. The father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, who is a responsible and respected Nigerian with a true Nigerian spirit, had earlier reported his concerns about his son's activities to the relevant American authorities. His father had expressed his shock and regret over his son's actions," she added.

The attempted bombing by a Nigerian of a U.S.-bound flight has provoked sharp reactions in image-conscious Nigeria.  The government was quick to condemn the incident involving its national.  Several Islamic groups have also denounced the attempted attack.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, roughly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Some Western diplomats have expressed concern about the rise of violent Islamic extremism in Nigeria.
 

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