DAKAR - A suicide bomber and gunmen killed scores of state workers Tuesday in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria, in an attack that is likely the work of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
The blast targeted employees waiting outside a local government secretariat for an employment verification exercise in the city of Zaria, in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai said in a Facebook post that 25 people were killed and 32 wounded. Among the dead was a two-year-old.
Zaria resident Mustapha Sa’a was walking by the secretariat when the blast occurred.
“A lot of people have died in the process of screening. And it is very unfortunate in the holy month, like this,” said Sa’a, referring to the Ramadan.
The incident comes amid a rising campaign of bomb and gun attacks across Nigeria’s north by Boko Haram, which has been fighting for six years to impose its brand of strict Islamic law in the region.
The group does not talk to the media and only occasionally releases videos claiming responsibility for individual attacks. But the extremists are thought to be behind the bombing of a mosque and restaurant in the city of Jos on Sunday that killed at least 44 people, as well as a series of attacks in the northeastern Borno state last week that left hundreds dead.
The group has attacked Kaduna state less frequently than other targets in the north, and the attack in Zaria has put locals on edge.
Zaria student Abdullahi Hassan says more should be done against the militants.
“We are calling on the government to add more effort into tackling this Boko Haram and other attacks that are currently happening in the northern Nigeria.”
Recently inaugurated President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crack down on the group.
Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Zaria, Nigeria.