A suicide car-bomb attack on the United Nations office in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja killed at least 18 on Friday, and a radical Muslim sect from that country’s northeastern region has already made claims of responsibility through telephone calls to broadcasters at the BBC and Voice of America.
This attack by the Islamist insurgent group “Boko Haram” is just the latest in Africa’s most populous country. Boko Haram translates as “Western culture is sacrilegious.”
In recent months, Islamic militants have bombed military bases and churches, captured police stations, burned banks, machine gunned bars and murdered nonviolent Muslim Imams, as part of a campaign to establish Sharia law in the country’s 19 northern provinces.
Nigerian police have not announced the identity of the Abuja attackers. The BBC has reported that Boko Haram recently threatened to target the U.N. office attacked today.
A midday statement from U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the murders, claiming that “an attack on Nigerian and international public servants demonstrates the bankruptcy of the ideology that led to this heinous action.”
Nigerian newspapers said the attack consisted of a bomb-laden car driven by a single suicide attacker. (RELATED: Online Islamist: East Coast quake: ‘Allah’s punishment’)
Nigeria has a fast-growing population of more than 155 million people — roughly 40 percent of whom are below the age of 14, according to the CIA. Roughly half the population is Muslim and half is Christian. The Muslim population is primarily located in the country’s north, alongside the Muslim populations in Niger, Mali and Chad.
Small terror groups affiliated with al-Qaida have operated in those countries, according to a 2004 statement from U.S. Gen. Charles Wald, who was at the time deputy commander of European Central Command.
In June, Boko Haram claimed that “Very soon, we will wage jihad … We want to make it known that our jihadists have arrived in Nigeria from Somalia where they received real training on warfare from our brethren who made that country ungovernable,” according to an Agence France-Presse report from Nigeria.