(CNN) — On Friday a car bomb exploded at the United Nations compound, in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, killing at least 18 people and injuring several others. It is the latest, and most ambitious in a series of bomb explosions that have hit the city in the last year.
The last one, in June, targeted the police headquarters in Abuja, killing two people.
Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group (sometimes referred to as “the Nigerian Taliban”) has been claiming responsibility for these bombings. “Boko Haram” translates loosely as “Western education is forbidden/sinful.”
The group holds all government authority in contempt and wants to establish a Sharia state in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has been in existence for several years, proselytising, and running a mosque and religious school, but did not rise to national prominence until it attacked police stations and prisons in parts of Northern Nigeria in July, 2009.
In retaliation, Nigerian security forces launched a ruthless crackdown. Hundreds of people were killed; the Boko Haram camp destroyed, and its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, arrested. He would later die in police custody, and a number of officers are currently facing trial. (Some of the group’s anger is traceable to what it claims is the highhandedness of the Nigerian police and military).
U.N. office in Nigeria bombed
At best this is an oversimplification of issues, and at worst dangerously misleading.
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My previous CNN.com articles:
We will fight for the soul of Nigeria (March 11, 2010)
The Nigerian president’s ‘Obama moment’ (July 5, 2010)
‘Africa needs to drive a harder bargain with China’ (September 10, 2010)
When will North Africa’s revolutions spread south? (March 3, 2011)