Hotel Blast Kills 13 in Nigeria as Police Foil Mosque Attack

At least 13 people were killed late yesterday by a bomb blast at a hotel in the Bayan Gari district of Nigeria’s northeastern city of Bauchi, a state official said.

“There are 13 dead bodies at the mortuary,” Abubakar Malami, commissioner of health for Bauchi state, told reporters today at a hospital where the casualties were taken. “Seventeen people were treated and discharged, while 17 others are in critical condition and will be operated upon.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nigerian security forces are struggling to contain a campaign of violence by the Islamist Boko Haram group, which is fighting to impose Islamic law on Africa’s most populous nation. A blast at a bus park in the capital, Abuja, killed at least 75 people on April 14, the same day the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Borno state.

Separately, a blast was averted at a mosque in Kano, Nigeria’s biggest northern city, after the police discovered 13 explosive devices in a car following a tip off by worshipers, Police Commissioner Aderenle Shinaba told reporters today.

“The explosives were found primed and waiting to be detonated by these extremists, when worshipers gathered to pray,” he said. “The destruction would have been massive if they were successfully detonated.”

Surveillance Flights

Boko Haram, which means “western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, drew international outrage when it kidnapped schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state. Most of the girls are still missing, and countries including the U.S. and U.K. are aiding the search and rescue effort.

The U.S. has reduced surveillance flights looking for the abducted girls as other coalition partners took on a bigger share of the search efforts, Department of Defense Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

“We don’t have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are but there’s been no letup of the effort itself,” Kirby told reporters in Washington yesterday. “The same effort is being applied.”

Nigeria, a country of about 170 million people with Africa’s biggest economy, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south. President Goodluck Jonathan has said Boko Haram is part of al-Qaeda and poses a threat to countries throughout the region.

“My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice,” Jonathan wrote in a June 26 op-ed in the Washington Post.

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