Nigeria Bomb Blast Kills At Least 71

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Suspicion Falls on Militant Islamist Group.

A rush-hour bomb blast at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja killed at least 71 people on Monday, an attack that is likely to raise fresh concerns about security in the Nigerian capital as it prepares to host a meeting of leading international investors, entrepreneurs and politicians.

There was no claim of responsibility for the morning attack, which also wounded more than 120 people. But suspicion immediately focused on Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group whose attacks across northeastern Nigeria have killed at least 1,500 people this year, according to Amnesty International.

The explosion ripped through the Nyanya depot, where buses were loading passengers for the 15-minute commute to the center of the capital, Abuja. In addition to passengers, the dead included women selling snacks, several taxi drivers and at least one young girl who had been taking bus tickets, witnesses said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan traveled to the bus terminal to survey the devastation firsthand.

“The issue of Boko Haram is temporary. Surely, we will get over it,” Mr. Jonathan said as he walked along a row of charred buses, their windows shattered by the blast.

“These are unnecessary distractions that are pushing us backward,” he said in a familiar note of confidence from a leader eager to highlight Nigeria’s economic gains.

Still, the bombing came at a delicate moment for authorities. The World Economic Forum is to convene a three-day conference in Abuja on May 7. Nigerian officials also have been riding a wave of confidence since the national statistical agency released new figures on April 6 that put Nigeria ahead of South Africa as the continent’s largest economy and within reach of the world’s top 20.

For the past three years, Boko Haram’s attacks have been largely restricted to the less populated northeast of the country. The Islamist fighters burned down four villages and a college there on Thursday and Friday, killing at least 217 people, officials said.

Monday’s blast is spurring concerns in the capital, where car bombings in 2011 hit a United Nations office, a police headquarters, and several churches.

Travel warnings issued by the U.S. and U.K. governments, citing unnamed intelligence sources, have long identified Abuja’s hotels as possible Boko Haram targets.

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