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Nigerian Blasts at Newspaper Offices Kill Eight, 34 Injured

Bombings at the offices of ThisDay newspaper in the Nigerian capital of Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna killed at least eight people and wounded 34 others, police and emergency officials said.

A second blast in Kaduna killed at least one person and wounded several others in the city’s Ungwan Muazu district, local government official Sanusi Sirajo said by phone.

Three people died in Abuja, including two security guards and a suicide bomber who drove a jeep through the back gate of the ThisDay building before ramming into a wall and exploding the vehicle, Olusegun Adeniyi, chairman of the newspaper’s editorial board, told reporters.

Fourteen people wounded in the blast are receiving treatment in two hospitals in the capital, Yushua Shuaib, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency said today in an e-mailed statement.

An explosion in a building housing ThisDay and other newspapers in Kaduna killed at least five people, Aminu Lawan, a police spokesman, said by phone. Twenty people were wounded in that blast, Shuaib said.

The blast in Abuja tore open the roof and destroyed the walls of the ThisDay office, shattering glass in nearby buildings, Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, a spokesman for the Nigeria Red Cross in the city, said by phone.

“There was smoke everywhere, with broken glass falling all over, and then a fire started,” said James Ogbu, a ThisDay employee who survived the blast in Abuja with minor injuries.

Presidential Condemnation

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned today’s attack and expressed sympathy for the bereaved families, according to a statement on the presidential website. Today’s attacks were “ignoble, misguided, horrendous and wicked,” Jonathan said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings. Authorities in Africa’s top oil producer blame an Islamist group Boko Haram for a surge in attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja in which hundreds of people have died this year.

The nature and locations of the attacks point to the likely involvement of Boko Haram, according to London-based risk-analysis group Control Risks.

‘Core Targets’

“While the sect is not known to have previously carried out such attacks on media outlets, it may have elected to strike a national newspaper in retaliation for negative coverage and to inhibit journalistic examination and criticism of Boko Haram’s activities,” Control Risks said in a statement on its website today. “The targeted newspaper is widely read by the Nigerian political and business elite, which feature among the Islamist sect’s core targets.”

In 2002 more than 100 people died in sectarian riots in Kano and Kaduna after ThisDay published a report about a Miss World pageant in Abuja that radical Muslim groups said was derogatory of the Prophet Muhammad.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 suicide car-bombing of a United Nations office in Abuja in which 25 people died. It also claimed responsibility for an attack in Kano on Jan. 20 in which 256 people were killed.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people, is almost evenly split between a largely Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

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