Newspaper insulted Muslims
This Day is based in southern Nigeria and is broadly supportive of President Goodluck Jonathan's government – the main target for Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds of people this year in shootings and bombings.
This Day angered Muslims a decade ago when one of its columnists suggested the Prophet Mohammed might have wanted to marry a beauty queen. At least one hundred people were killed in ensuing riots.
Suicide car bombers attacked the offices of Nigerian newspaper ThisDay in the capital city of Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna on Thursday. The seemingly coordinated strikes killed at least five. Our local Radio Netherlands Worldwide correspondent visited the site of the Abuja blast.
By Idris Akinbajo, Abuja
When Ade Akano arrived at his job as an engineer for ThisDay on Thursday morning, he believed it would be a normal day. He would help ensure that the generator, printing machines and other equipment function optimally.
This was not to be. At 11.05 a.m., four hours after resuming duty at the media house’s office in the Jabi district of Abuja, a bomb exploded.
“I was shocked. I was on my way to the toilet. I watched where I was, the thing [blast] did not affect me. I looked for how to save myself,” Akano said, looking distraught.
The explosion Akano witnessed was the result of a suicide bomber. He rammed his bomb-laden vehicle into the front gate of the media house’s premises, killing himself and two security guards instantly. Seven of the newspaper staff were also injured.
Through its spokesman Abul Qaqa, The Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack. This was published in an exclusive interview with Premium Times, a Nigerian internet-based newspaper.
Joe is a security guard who narrowly escaped. He had just walked away from the gate when the incident happened. “I was by the old generator when the blast occurred. I just fell down and started crawling. I didn’t even know where I was crawling to,” he said.
Referring to a fellow security guard, he added: “Sony was injured.” Sony is still being treated at the hospital. Two other security officers died on the spot.
Still, some survivors are ready to return to their jobs immediately. “If they ask me to resume work tomorrow, I will,” Akano said.
Just as rescue efforts were underway in Abuja, another ThisDay office in Kaduna was hit. The compound also houses two other newspapers, The Sun and The Moment.
Police boss Suleiman Fakai described the attacks on ThisDay as “systematic”. The management of the media company says they had no sense this could happen. “As far as I am concerned, there was no threat to ThisDay. But there have been serious security threats in Abuja,” said its editor Nduka Nwosu.
Nwosu, who was not at his Abuja office when the explosion took place, expressed appreciation of the emergency rescue teams’ promptness. “The response from the emergency agencies was swift. They had even arrived before I got to the office upon hearing of the blast.”
According to Nigerian security services spokesperson Marylin Ogar: the Kaduna blast, which Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for, led to the death of two people, with nine others injured.