A bomb ripped through a crowded shopping mall in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Wednesday, killing at least 22 people and wounding many more.
The explosion came just two days after authorities held the militant network Boko Haram responsible for a deadly blast at a medical college in the north of the country. Again suspicion is likely to fall on the feared armed group, which has exploited Nigeria’s weak security during an increasingly bloody campaign targeting civilians.
Following the latest blast, billowing black smoke could be seen a mile away from the shopping center. At the scene of the explosion, witnesses reported seeing body parts scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. In addition to the reported deaths, a government official told Al Jazeera that 52 people were left injured as a result of the explosion.
No one has as yet claimed responsibility for the blast. But Boko Haram has attacked Abuja twice in the last ten weeks, including a car bombing in April that killed 75 people at a bus terminal.
Nigerian security forces appear incapable of curtailing the near-daily attacks concentrated in the northeast, where the group has its stronghold.
The militants — who express a desire to carve out a hard-line Islamic state in the north of the country — increased their area of operations this year and have spread attacks to Abuja, in the center of the country in recent months.
The bomb at a medical college in northern Kano on Monday killed at least eight people. And last week at least 14 died in a bomb blast at a World Cup viewing site in Damaturu, a state capital in the northeast. The bloody campaign also saw twin car bombs in the central city of Jos in May that left more than 130 people dead; and a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of Kano, a Muslim city.
International pressure on Nigeria to address the insurgency increased when Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in April.
But alongside a failure to retrieve the missing girls, the armed group is thought responsible for more kidnappings. Earlier this week 91 people — 31 boys and 60 girls and women including toddlers as young as 3 — were abducted.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press