Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nigerian army accused of human rights abuses after another bomb blast

On Monday 10th October, Nigerian security forces were accused of burning homes and shooting at civilians following a bomb attack in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. The attack, which killed a soldier and a civilian, is thought to have been carried out by Islamist militants.

An unnamed military spokesman denied the abuses and said the bomb blast set off a fire fed by petrol canisters along the roadside. He added that it took over three hours to put it out. An eyewitness told AFP news agency: “We have been forced to abandon our homes by shooting and burning of homes and vehicles by soldiers following the attack on their patrol vehicle…Everybody is fleeing."

It is not the first time that the country's military has been accused of human rights abuses in Maiduguri, where thousands of people had to flee the city due to militant activities and army misconduct. Speaking about the situation, Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed said: "Three soldiers and one civilian were seriously injured following the explosion of a remote-controlled improvised explosive device planted along a dusty road in Dala area of Maiduguri." He later said that one of the soldiers and the civilian died from their injuries.

The Islamist militants behind the latest attack are believed to belong to Boko Haram, responsible for dozens of other attacks mostly in the country's northeast region. Mohammed added: "We believe that the device was planted by Boko Haram people. We have arrested eight suspects in connection with the explosion."

Nine cars parked by the side of the road, where the explosion took place, were burned. It is believed that the bomb “was detonated by a remote control targeted at one of our patrol vehicles. The device exploded as our patrol vehicle was passing by. The vehicle was flung metres away".

According to Amnesty International security forces killed at least 23 people following a bomb explosion in Maiduguri in July, and another 25 people following another bomb attack earlier in the same month.

Sources: AFP, BBC News, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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