18 killed in Abuja UN Bombing

2011-08-27
THE PUNCH Newspaper- John Alechenu

A suicide bomb attack on the United Nation’s building in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Friday morning, left at least 18 people dead and several others wounded.



The bomb, which was triggered by a lone suicide bomber in a car laden with bombs, brought down a substantial part of the massive structure, at about 10:26 am Nigerian time.



Although final official figures were still being expected at the time of this report, preliminary reports put the death toll at 18.



No fewer than 100 workers at the building were said to be among the wounded.



A member of staff of UN Women, one of the 26 UN agencies which have offices in the building, said she escaped alive by Providence.



Although she refused to give her name, she explained that she was in the rest room on the second floor when the blast occurred.



She said, “I was in the bathroom when I heard the blast and part of the building caved in. I rushed out to see some of my colleagues I was speaking to minutes earlier covered in blood.



“There were close to 1,000 of us in the building at the time most of us made it out alive.”



She explained that it was difficult for her to say how many people died because some of her colleagues were trapped in some of the rooms because the blast forced the security doors to lock.



Officials of Julius Berger were seen entering the building to unlock the doors.



The Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Mike Zuokumor, told reporters that the bomber forced his way into the UN compound through the exit gate after using the vehicle to pull down the gate.



He said that the bomber’s body was “cut into three” by the impact of the bomb.



The police boss, who initially confirmed the death of 18 persons, later recanted.



He had earlier said, “For now, we have 18 dead and eight injured in the United Nations’ building.



“The point at which he entered, I understand, is the exit gate. He went past the first gate, got to the second gate, went to the reception and detonated the bomb.”



Asked which type of vehicle the bomber used, he said a Honda Accord.



Zuokumor promised that the police, in collaboration with other security agencies, would do everything within their power to get to the root of the incident.



Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, who visited the scene at 11.26 am in company with the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, condemned the blast.



She described the incident as not only an attack on Nigeria, but a threat to the peace and security of Africa. She said, “It is sad for the country; it is a threat to Africa.”



Onwuliri promised that those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.



She said, “The fact that you have not heard anything over the former attacks does not mean the cases are not being pursued. That is the work of security agencies.”



Minister of State for FCT, Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, who was also at the scene of the incident moments later, appealed to sympathisers to allow the security agencies and rescue teams to do their jobs.



She expressed satisfaction with the rescue efforts.



Our correspondent gathered that as a result of the incident, the UN headquarters approved a request by its field officers in Nigeria to allow surviving workers in the building to return to their homes to await further directives.



The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, condemned the act, which he described as an attack on the international community.



In an electronic statement sent to our correspondent, he said, “On behalf of the European Parliament, I send my condolences to the families and friends of those killed.



“Attacking the United Nations is an attack on the whole international community. The UN is in Nigeria to assist the Nigerian people; it is therefore all the more shocking that this attack occurred. The EP condemns this heinous act.”



Also, the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague, expressed shock at the attack.



He pledged UK’s assistance to Nigeria in its search for the perpetrators of the act.



His comments were contained in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja hours after the incident.



Hague expressed condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those affected.



He said, “Around the world, the UN works for peace, security and international cooperation and an attack on the UN is an attack on these principles.



“We will be passing on condolences to the UN Secretary General and President Goodluck Jonathan.



“The UK stands ready to provide any assistance we can to the UN and Nigerian authorities to bring those responsible to justice.”














 

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