Nigerian President says `terrorists` behind attacks

Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan said terrorists were behind the bombings that rattled the country`s Independence Day festivities.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 12:28 PM IST

Abuja: Nigeria`s President Goodluck
Jonathan on Sunday said terrorists were behind the bombings that
rattled the country`s Independence Day festivities.

Though a guerrilla group, Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had issued a warning
prior to the attack and claimed responsibility after, Jonathan
saw the attack as being different from what MEND could carry
out.

"What happened yesterday was a terrorist act and MEND
was just used as a straw; MEND is not a terrorist group. The
Niger Delta people are aware of the government`s noble efforts
to assuage the suffering and deprivation in that region,"
Jonathan said at a colloquium, organised today by the ECOWAS
Parliament, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of several
African countries.

He did not provide details on who he believed the
culprits were following yesterday`s blasts.

MEND -- the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger
Delta -- claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of
oil revenue.

"I am from the Niger Delta, my father`s house is few
metres from an oil-well, so nobody can claim to be a Niger
Deltan than myself, " the president said.

The blasts occurred near where Nigeria`s leaders and
foreign delegations had gathered to commemorate the country`s
50 years of independence, killing at least 15 people even
though the police put the death toll at 8.

They also come ahead of elections to be held early
next year.

Three explosions were witnessed, including one at the
venue where the president was present just 40 metres away but
the ceremony went ahead despite the explosions.

About 15 foreign leaders, including a representative
of Queen Elizabeth 11 and a delegation from India led by
Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid were present during
the attack.

The explosions came after Nigeria`s main militant
group, MEND sent a warning that there is "nothing worth
celebrating after 50 years" as the people of the Niger Delta
have had their land and resources stolen.

Another explosion at the millennium park near the
Eagle Square, killed at least seven people, an eyewitness told
PTI.

Nigeria country got independence from Britain in 1960
and was later ruled by the military.

It returned to presidential democracy in 1999 and has
been striving hard to become Africa`s largest democracy since
then.

India commenced diplomatic relations with the country
two years before independence and the two have remained
friendly.

PTI