It was predictable enough. Needless to say, this attack is a major escalation for Boko Haram, and the stability of the country depends on the strength of Abuja’s response. “Abuja attack: Car bomb hits Nigeria UN building,” from BBC News, August 26:
At least 18 people have been killed in an apparent suicide car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
The powerful blast destroyed the lower floors of the building. Dozens have been injured, some critically.
A spokesman for the Islamist group Boko Haram told the BBC in a phone call that it had carried out the attack.
If “Western Education is Sin” (a rough translation of the group’s name), where does he suppose phones come from?
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the attack was “an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others”.
The UN was an inevitable target, due in part to its high visibility. Above all, Boko Haram consistently targets institutions and practices that could stand in the way of its intentions to impose Sharia.
Speaking before Boko Haram’s statement, President Goodluck Jonathan reaffirmed his government’s “total commitment” to combating terrorism, and said his administration would “spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice”.
In Friday morning’s attack, a car crashed through two security barriers and rammed into the building’s reception before exploding, witnesses said.
Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed by the number of injured and have appealed for blood donations.
Boko Haram, which is fighting for the establishment of Sharia law in Nigeria, also said it carried out a car bombing at police headquarters in June.
A UN official in Nigeria, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the UN had stepped up security at all its buildings in Nigeria in the past month after receiving information that the UN could be targeted by Boko Haram.
Analysts say that the scale and target of the attack could point to a link with international terror groups.