Islamist Militant Group Boko Haram ClaimsAttack in Nigeria
A deadly car bombing at the United Nations building in Abuja has brought more attention to an Islamic group. The attack happened Friday morning in the Nigerian capital. Later, a man claiming to represent Boko Haram spoke by telephone with a VOA reporter. He said the groupcarried out the attack and warned that "this is just the beginning."
The spokesman said the bombing was inreaction to the Nigerian military's increased presence in the north eastern state of Borno. Boko Haram is active there. The government sent more troop safter an increase in suspected Boko Haram shootings and bombings.
In the Hausa language, the group's namemeans "western education is a sin." Boko Haram wants Islamic law orsharia to be established more widely across Africa's most populous nation.Western security officials say Boko Haram may have ties to the north African group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
Boko Haram launched a violent uprising in July of two thousand nine. Nigeria's military crushed that unrest. Since then,Boko Haram has attacked police, politicians and community leaders. The group claimed responsibility for a major attack on Abuja's police headquarters inJune.
Former VOA reporter Josephine Kamara andher husband work at the UN building in Abuja. She had driven him to workshortly before the explosion. Her husband is safe. She described thedestruction to VOA's Joe DeCapua.
JOSEPHINE KAMARA: "Right now, I'mstanding in front of the UN building, Joe and I see the front part of the mainUN building. There are shattered windows. Hardly any of the windows are left standing. This building is about three floors, plus the ground floor, making itfour floors. All the way up to the top floor, there's shattered windows,there's debris. There are mangos, iron rods all over the place. And I see a lotof the UN staffers' family members are standing out here. Also, it looks likethe entire Abuja police force has actually come to the UN building, standinghere, trying to get casualties out. Those that are badly hurt have been takento the hospital."
In a statement, Nigerian President GoodluckJonathan called the attack, "barbaric, senseless and cowardly." Hesaid his government remains committed to fighting terrorism.
President Obama also called it a"horrific and cowardly attack."
At UN headquarters in New York,Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke to the Security Council.
BAN KI-MOON: "Around eleven o'clockthis morning local time, the UN house in the Nigeria capital, Abuja, was struckby a car bomb. These buildings house twenty-six humanitarian and developmentagencies of the UN family. This was an assault on those who devote their livesto helping others. We condemn this terrible act utterly."
The secretary-general warned that UN offices are increasingly at risk of attacks like the bombing in Abuja.
BAN KI-MOON: "Let me say it clearly:these acts of terrorism are unacceptable. They will not deter us from our vitalwork for the people of Nigeria and the world. This outrageous and shockingattack is evidence that the UN premises are increasingly being viewed as softtargets by extremist elements around the world."
In December of two thousand seven, a bombing at UN offices in the Algerian capital killed seventeen employees. Andin August of two thousand three, a suicide bomber struck the UN headquarters inBaghdad. Twenty-two workers were killed. They included the top UN diplomat inIraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil.
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