Three hundred people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in the last week
LAGOS, Nigeria — A bomb blast in Nigeria’s northern university town of Zaria killed 20 people Tuesday, the Kaduna state governor reported, the latest in a string of deadly bombing and shooting attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai urged citizens to avoid crowded public places including mosques and churches as the militants widen and accelerate the pace of attacks that have killed some 300 people in a week. Boko Haram may be responding to an Islamic State group order for more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On Twitter, El-Rufai said “I am sad that a terrorist bomb attack just killed 20 people in Sabon Gari, Zaria.” Local media said the blast targeted government headquarters as civil servants assembled for a training course.
Boko Haram wants to install an Islamic state across the West African nation of about 170 million people divided between a predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. The extremists say democracy has brought nothing but woes to Nigerians plagued by endemic corruption that keeps Africa’s biggest oil producer and richest economy mired in poverty.
Nigeria’s police force Monday night announced increased security around mosques and churches after Boko Haram assaults on Sunday killed more than 60 people in a mosque and posh Muslim restaurant in central Jos city and at an evangelical Christian church in northeastern Potiskum town.
The attacks come just five weeks into the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim and former military dictator who has vowed to crush the 6-year-old insurgency that has killed more than 13,000 people and driven 1.5 million from their homes.
Boko Haram took over a large swath of northeastern Nigeria last year. A multinational force from Nigeria and its neighbors forced the militants out of many towns, but attacks have increased in recent weeks.