Death toll revised in Nigeria UN attack

Toll from Friday's suicide bombing at United Nations headquarters in Abuja stands at 21, with 73 injured, officials say.

    There were 21 fatalities and 73 others injured in the attack, the UN deputy chief said on Sunday [Reuters]

    The death toll from the suicide bombing at the UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital stands at 21, with 73 injured, the deputy United Nations chief announced, reducing a previous toll of 23.

    "Twenty-one fatalities, 73 injured, 26 of whom remain in intensive care," Deputy UN Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said on Sunday.

    Friday's car bomb in Abuja blew out windows, gutted a lower floor and set the building alight in one of the most lethal attacks on the UN in its history.

    The group Boko Haram, which wants Islamic sharia law implemented in the country, claimed responsibility for the attack in which a suicide bomber forced his way through two security gates and rammed his car into the building.

    Migiro said the bombing was "a shocking incident, an attack on global peace and communities".

    "I have looked at the ripped-up gate. It is amazing how this happened and we are grappling with that, now ... an investigation is under way ... We will see what we have to do better," Migiro, who was accompanied by UN Security Chief Gregory Starr, said.

    "We are working as a team to ensure that the injured do get all the treatment that they require," Migiro said after visiting the hospital, where many of the injured were receiving treatment.

    'Barbaric' attack

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the suicide bombing, describing it as "barbaric, senseless and cowardly" and ordered increased security around the capital following the blast.

    After meeting with Migiro, Jonathan pledged in a statement from the presidency to offer temporary accommodation and help in the reconstruction of the building so the UN could "continue doing the good humanitarian work you have been doing".

    "He commended ... all efforts to bring relief to those affected by this condemnable act of destruction," the statement said.

    Most of the dead were Nigerian, but a Norway official confirmed one of its citizens was also killed. A UN official said the organisation expected to be able to release the names and nationalities of the dead later on Sunday.

    In recent months, the country has faced an increasing threat from Boko Haram, which has been waging war against the Nigerian government, Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reported from Abuja.

    But our correspondent said violence in the past has centred on Nigerian symbols of authority and not foreign targets.

    Boko Haram's activities also used to be confined to the remote northeast, on the threshold of the Sahara desert, where it has killed more than 150 people in bombings and shootings this year, although it claimed a car bomb at police headquarters in Abuja in June.

    It says it wants Sharia law more widely applied in Nigeria, beyond the mostly Muslim north where some states have it.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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