President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a war on terror following twin car bombs in Jos, central Nigeria
At least 118 people have died in Jos, central Nigeria, after two car bombs exploded at a bus terminal and a busy market.
Nigeria’s emergency management agency confirmed the death toll, while President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the attacks as “cruel and evil”.
The blasts occurred within half an hour of each other, leading to suspicion that they were timed carefully to cause maximum damage; the second bomb killed rescue workers attending the scene of the first blast.
While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the violent attack, extremist Muslim organisation Boko Haram – members of which last month kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state, sparking a worldwide campaign to bring them home to safety – is thought to have planned and executed the explosions.
With a name that translates to ‘Western education is forbidden’, Boko Haram has ties to al-Qaeda and its leadership have declared an intention to cleanse the country of Christians, eradicate Nigerian democracy and replace it with an Islamic state guided by Sharia law.
The group is responsible for several recent bombings across Nigeria.
Witnesses described the scene as horrific; Mark Lipdo, who works for a Christian charity based in Jos, told news agencies of the pervading smell of burning human flesh in the aftermath of the attack.
“It’s horrifying, terrible,” he said, adding that suspicions had been raised about a parked white van in the market place hours before the first blast, but authorities failed to act.
In a statement, President Jonathan has underlined the government’s commitment to “winning the war against terror”.
“This administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilisation,” the statement continues; condemning the attacks as a “tragic assault on human freedom”.
The Nigerian government has faced criticism for its failure to curb the violence of Boko Haram; the president declared a state of emergency in Muslim-majority Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in May 2013 and has authorised an increased military presence to combat extremism, but Boko Haram continues to wreak devastation. It is thought to be responsible for almost 2,000 deaths so far this year alone.