In Nigeria early Monday morning, a car bomb attack suspected to be the actions of an Islamist militant group killed 71 people and injured dozens more. The blast happened at a densely populated bus station in the country’s capital city, Abuja.
Officials in Nigeria attributed the bombing to Boko Haram, which rarely acknowledges itself in attacks such as what occurred in Abuja. For the past two years, the insurgents have aimed to unseat the sitting secular government and have carried out similar violent actions in times past. The attack in Abuja was among the group’s boldest yet as it happened just miles from the seat of government. Although Nigeria’s top aides have largely brushed aside this latest move and previous attacks, Boko Haram might be asserting itself in a more aggressive fashion.
The New York Times reports:
As deadly as those attacks have been, officials in Abuja categorized them as, at most, an indirect threat to the rest of the country, occurring far away from the seat of government. But with a strike near Nigeria’s power center, not far from government buildings, the Parliament and the country’s presidency, the group could be reasserting its willingness to destabilize state institutions directly.
Despite frequent government claims of victory against the group, the killings have continued, with bombings, shootings and nighttime massacres of students at state schools, one of Boko Haram’s preferred targets. The army also has been implicated in large-scale massacres in its own brutal eradication campaign.
Dating back to 2011, Boko Haram has been connected to a series of suicide bombings and attacks against Nigerian civilians in a brazen attempt to inspire mass unrest. Scores of small to larger scale attacks have occurred in mostly remote areas. Nigeria has been struggling lately with gaining the support of civilians after allegations of corruption and mishandling of state funds began to come forth.
Boko Haram has remained underground and effectively so despite a large military offensive launched by Nigeria last May with the purpose of stamping out the group. With its recent attacks on citizens, Boko Haram is now seen as terrorists versus rebels looking to upend the state government.
Visit the gallery to see images of the car bombing attack in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. Some images may be disturbing.