The blast occured just a month ahead of general elections in the oil-rich nation [AFP]

A bomb has exploded near the venue of a ruling party election rally in Suleija near Nigeria's capital city of Abuja, killing three people and injuring 21, a federal police spokesman has said.

Olusola Amore said that unknown attackers lobbed a bomb from a moving vehicle on Thursday. Amore said the bomb bounced and landed at the feet of women who set up a market to sell goods to those attending the rally for Babangida Aliyu, the gubernatorial candidate for the People's Democratic Party.

He said police had no immediate suspects for the attack on the supporters of the party, which has ruled Nigeria since the country became a democracy more than a decade ago.

Members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps treated some victims and transported them to local hospitals in Suleija, Emmanuel Ekeh, the corps spokesman, said.

Aliyu was not injured in the attack. In 2007, he became governor of Niger state, a rural state with two major hydroelectric dams on the Niger River that provide much-needed electricity for the nation.

Aliyu's rally in Suleija happened as former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari held a major political rally in Minna for his own presidential bid as the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change.

Political killings

The blast occured just a month ahead of general elections in the oil-rich nation.

Since becoming a democracy in 1999, Nigeria has been dominated by the People's Democratic Party.

However, opposition parties have made gains in recent years as courts overturned flawed elections and the public grew increasingly exasperated with the graft and mismanagement plaguing the country.

Violence remains a part of the country's elections, political killings were reported in the run-up to the country's last set of elections four years ago.

This year, bombings have targeted a gubernatorial candidate in the oil-producing southern delta, while a radical Islamic sect claimed responsibility for the assassination of a candidate in the country's restive northeast fire.

Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari are vying for the top post in the forthcoming elections.

Source: Agencies