In a clear sign that the next presidential election in Nigeria will once again not be peaceful, two car bombs were detonated in the midst of a capital event last week with President Goodluck Jonathan, the country’s former vice president who is seeking his own term after assuming the presidency during a succession crisis earlier this year.
President Jonathan, who took over running the country shortly before President Umaru Yar’adua died in May, survived last week’s attack apparently unharmed, and met with ex-rebels the next day to discuss ways of reducing violence. Such an attack is new to the capital, though terrorist and militant strikes are common in the much-abused Niger Delta region. The Economist:
All that was left of two cars packed with explosives was their smouldering chassis after they had been blown up on October 1st near Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, while surrounded by unsuspecting citizens celebrating the 50th anniversary of their country’s independence. At least 12 people died and dozens were injured in this year’s most worrying act of political violence. A well-known rebel group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which is most active in the oil-producing south, claimed responsibility but blamed the government for the deaths, insisting that it had ignored back-channel warnings given 24 hours before the blasts.
The attacks took place close to President Goodluck Jonathan, as he was reviewing a parade a few hundred yards away in front of invited dignitaries. Shortly before the bombings he had declared: “There is certainly much to celebrate: our freedom, our strength, our unity and our resilience.”
This post originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.