Bloomberg News

Nigeria Charges Suspected Islamic Militants Over Two Blasts

September 13, 2011

(Updates with magistrate’s ruling in third paragraph.)

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian prosecutors charged six suspected members of a militant Islamic group today with two bombings earlier this year in the town of Suleja, north of the capital, Abuja, according to court proceedings.

The accused persons, who prosecutors said were members of Boko Haram, a group inspired by Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, were charged with two counts each of conspiracy and terrorism at the Abuja Magistrate Court. They pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Oyeyeola Oyewumi accepted prosecutors’ request to keep the suspects in custody, saying they could be held “for up to three weeks” while investigations continue. She set hearing for Oct. 4.

Authorities in Nigeria blame Boko Haram for a wave of violence since last year targeting government buildings and security forces. At least 15 people died in the Suleja, which is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Abuja. The first attack was on the local office of the electoral commission on April 8 and the second on a church on July 10.

The group claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 suicide car-bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja that killed 23 people and wounded 71 as well as multiple blasts on Christmas Eve in the central city of Jos that killed 80 people.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. More than 14,000 people died in ethnic and religious clashes in the West African nation between 1999 and 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

--Editors: Dulue Mbachu, Emily Bowers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net


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