Kano , July 08: At least 25 people were killed when a bomb blast ripped through a packed government office in Zaria, northern Nigeria, today, in a suspected suicide attack likely to be blamed on Boko Haram.
The explosion occurred at about 9:00 am (0800 GMT), as primary school teachers and public sector workers were queueing for identity checks, according to witnesses.
“I am sad to confirm that an IED (improvised explosive device) most likely carried by a suicide bomber exploded in the Sabon Gari LG (local government district) and killed 25 people, including a two-year-old,” Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai said.
El-Rufai added in the statement posted on his Facebook account that 32 others were injured and were being treated in hospital.
Zaria, a mainly Muslim city some 75 kilometres north of the state capital Kaduna city, is near the border with Katsina and Kano states.
Last night, a young girl believed to be aged just 13 was killed when explosives strapped to her body detonated near a major mosque in Kano city.
That bombing followed a twin attack on a mosque and restaurant in the central city of Jos on Sunday, which left 44 people dead, and a suicide bomb attack on a church in Potiskum that killed five.
Boko Haram has increased the intensity and frequency of its attacks on civilians since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power on May 29 vowing to crush the rebels.
But he been unable to stem the bloodshed from guerrilla-style attacks on “soft” targets.
With the latest blast, nearly 550 people have been killed since Buhari’s inauguration, according to AFP reporting.
Local government worker Mahmud Abbas said public sector staff and primary school teachers were undergoing screening to identify potential ghost workers on the state payroll.
Another staff member who was waiting outside, Mohammed Abubakar, said: “We were taking turns going into the hall in batches for the screening and also to get our pay cheques.
“The first batch had gone in. There were almost 100 people there, including the staff, the screening committee and accountants from the banks.
“There was a huge explosion inside the hall followed by billows of smoke and dust. Now the area has been cordoned off by security men.
“I can’t give you an exact toll but I believe that dozens must have died given the number of people inside and the sound of the explosion.