An early morning explosion that ripped through a bus station on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, killed at least 71 people and injured 124, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened during the morning rush hour. But suspicion was focused on Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group active in the northeast of the country that has been threatening to attack the capital.
The explosion at the Nyanya transit park destroyed 16 high-capacity buses and 24 minibuses, many of which were loaded with passengers, police said. There were a number of secondary explosions as vehicle fuel tanks ignited and burned.
Witnesses described a gory scene, with dismembered bodies scattered on the ground and people trapped in burning cars screaming for help.
It was not immediately clear what type of explosive device was used. But security experts suspect that the initial blast was inside a vehicle, the head of search and rescue operations, Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, told Reuters news agency.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the scene accompanied by senior government officials. He said his government was doing everything possible to “move the country forward in spite of all the distractions that want to take us backward."
“The issue of Boko Haram is temporary," he was quoted as saying by the Abuja-based Daily Trust newspaper. “We promise that we will get over it.”
An escalation in attacks by Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria and reprisals by security forces have killed at least 1,500 people this year, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
The militants also claimed responsibility for a 2011 suicide car bombing at the United Nations office building in Abuja that killed at least 21 people.
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