Nigerian Islamist militants claim UN attack
Today's suicide attack on the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria marks the first time Boko Haram has struck a foreign target.
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A suicide car bombing Friday on the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killed at least 16 people, injured dozens, and destroyed the lower floors of the multistory building. Twenty-six UN agencies have offices in the building, which may have held as many as 400 people at the time of the attack.
Boko Haram, a radical Muslim group based in the country's northeast, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Associated Press. The group has targeted the Nigerian government and police before, but this is the first time it has struck an international organization.
"This is not an attack on Nigeria but on the global community," said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Viola Onwuliri. "An attack on the world."
A UN official told the BBC that the UN received intelligence last month that it could expect an attack by Boko Haram and that it had stepped up security in response.
According to the spokeswoman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, Yushau Shuaib, the vehicle passed through the first and second gates of the UN compound and detonated its explosives in the building's reception hall, CNN reports.
The attack was clearly meant for the UN building; there's no chance the target was a mistake, writes Elizabeth Dickinson, a former Nigeria correspondent for The Economist, on the blog UN Dispatch.
Abuja, as a city, looks a bit like a metropolis in the Arabian Gulf (or, say, Miami.) It’s spread out, the buildings are big and surrounded by parking lots and gates. You need a car to go anywhere. Even by that measure, the UN compound was separated from the other buildings in town — about a 20 minute drive from the center of the city, and about a five minute drive from the US Embassy. If the bomb went off at the UN compound, then that was the target; there’s no chance it could have been intended for another building as there are none nearby. That’s clearly why Nigeria’s minister of state for foreign affairs told BBC that this constituted an “act of international terrorism” – against the international community.