ABUJA - A car bomb ripped through the United Nations' headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Friday, killing at least 18 people, in an attack reminiscent of
a June blast claimed by a local radical Islamist sect.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and said the casualty toll was likely to be considerable.
Suspected radical Islamists kill 25 in Nigeria bombing
Security sources and witnesses said the car rammed into the building and blew up, badly damaging parts of an office complex where close to 400 people normally work for UN agencies.
Body parts were strewn on the ground as emergency workers, soldiers and police swarmed around the building, cordoned roads and rushed the wounded to hospital.
"Different people have been taken to different hospitals so we're not
sure of casualty figures. It is at least 18," said Mike Zuokumor, Abuja
No one claimed responsibility for the attack. However, one Abuja-based
security source suspected the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, whose
strikes have been growing in intensity and spreading further afield, or
al-Qaida's North African arm.
"This is very likely the work of Boko Haram and, or, AQIM (al Qaida in
the Islamic Maghreb) and is a serious escalation in the security
situation in Nigeria," the security source said. "This is the worst
thing that could have happened."
In Friday's attack the car slammed through security gates of the UN
complex, crashed into the basement and exploded, sending vehicles flying
and setting the building ablaze.
"When the car got inside it went straight to the basement and exploded,
killing people in reception, right and left," said Abuja resident James
John, who witnessed the attack. "The entire building, from the ground
floor to the topmost, was just fire and smoke. I saw six bodies been
carried. I can't believe it."
"All the people in the basement were all killed. Their bodies are
littered all over the place. I saw about five dead bodies," said Ocilaje
Michael, a UN employee at the complex.
The building was blackened from top to bottom. In places, walls were
blown away and there were piles of debris from the explosion.