At least 25 people were killed in Kaduna, Nigeria, on Wednesday after a bomb targeting an Islamic cleric exploded in a busy commercial area, police said. A second explosion in Kaduna's Kawo market killed 50, reports the International Business Times.
In the first explosion, the bomb was reportedly thrown from the back of a moving motorcycle in an attempted assassination of Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who led prayers in Murtala Muhammed Square shortly before the explosion, eyewitnesses told Reuters. The cleric was unharmed in the attack.
Condemnation over the Wednesday bombings in Nigeria continues to spread, even with much of the world’s attention to diverted by recent events in the Middle East, and the downing of the Maylasia Air Jet over eastern Ukraine.
Yusuf Suleiman, a local trader, told Reuters that he counted at least 15 bodies in a police van. Body parts and damaged vehicles are strewn across Alkali Road near the city center, the BBC adds. While local police have yet to reveal an exact death toll from the blast, a Reuters update regarding the second explosion in Kaduna reports a death toll of 32.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing yet, but militant Islamist group Boko Haram has reportedly carried out a series of bombings and large-scale kidnappings in the region over the last few months. The group often targets moderate Islamic leaders who reject its militant stance.
In Washington, Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokeswoman of the U.S. State Department, is the latest official to add a voice to a series of events in Nigeria that continues to kill, and maim, innocent civilians across the country.
“The United States deplores today’s twin bombings in Kaduna, Nigeria, which targeted Shaykh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, one of the country’s most respected Muslim scholars, during the month of Ramadan. We are also concerned by reports that these blasts may have also targeted former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari. We extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the more than 80 victims killed in these blasts. “We call on (the) Nigerian authorities to fully investigate these attacks, and we urge all Nigerians to avoid reprisals and continue to practice the interfaith cooperation that violent extremists seek to undermine,” Harf concluded in the official statement.
At press time, the number of injured and fatalities are expected to rise past the 82 already confirmed dead out of the two bombings. Details are surfacing slowly out of the two bombing sites.