21 Nigeria football fans have been killed in an explosion in the northern part of the country, with a further 27 thought to be seriously injured.
The attack happened in the city of Damaturu as fans gathered to watch the Group A World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico, in the latest of several terrorist atrocities in the last few years.
Damaturu is the capital of Yobe state, where a state of emergency was declared just over a year ago.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast, but several parts of Nigeria have already taken preventive action by banning public screenings of the World Cup, in response to threats by Boko Haram – the same group who were behind the infamous kidnapping of 276 girls in April.
According to the BBC, witnesses saw the bomber approach in a tricycle taxi before setting off the explosives.
At present, there is still some confusion over where the attack actually took place. According to local police, fans had huddled outside a shop with a television to watch the host nation face off against Mexico, a match that eventually ended in a goalless draw.
However, other sources believe that despite Nigeria’s tough laws against them, a viewing centre had indeed been set up.
Reporting of the massacre is already creating tension, as police have been accused of trying to downplay the number of casualties.
With no one yet admitting to being behind it, it is difficult to discern a motive. However, Boko Haram has in the past slammed football as ‘un-Islamic’, and is currently perceived as the biggest threat to security.
‘Boko Haram’ means ‘Western Education is Forbidden’. The organization were also blamed for a similar attack on football fans on June 1, though again nobody claimed responsibility. On that day, 14 were killed in Adamawa.
The latest attack has sent shockwaves across the world – the timing will be particularly poignant for the Catholic community in Northern Ireland, as Wednesday marks the anniversary of the Loughinisland massacre, where six civilians were murdered and a further five wounded by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) while watching Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.
The Nigerian authorities have faced allegations of not doing enough to stop such events, and despite promises that security around the country would be increased, they appear powerless to stop such occurrences.
Casualties are being taken to the main hospital at Damaturu. Representatives of the Red Cross are also at the scene.
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