Three explosions rattled Nigeria’s independence day festivities on Friday — one of them at the venue of the President’s celebration — killing at least seven people in the capital.
The explosions came after Nigeria’s main militant group 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.
One of the explosions occurred at the Eagle’s Square where President Jonathan Goodluck was present to witness the military formation.
Several foreign delegates are in the country to attend the celebrations, including Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who arrived here on Thursday.
Another explosion at the millennium park near the Eagle Square, killed at least seven people, an eyewitness told PTI.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the rebel group of the Niger Delta, had earlier issued a statement warning that it had planted bombs to stall the 50th anniversary celebrations.
However, the programme continued, with foreign heads of states and delegates in attendance and President Jonathan hosting the Golden Jubilee celebration of the country’s independence from Britain.
MEND had earlier asked for an immediate evacuation of the entire arena before 10:30 a.m. on Friday informing that bombs had been planted.
“Several explosive devices have been successfully planted in and around the venue by our operatives working inside the government security services. In evacuating the area, keep a safe distance from vehicles and trash bins,” MEND had said in a statement, also emailed, to PTI.
The group argued the people of the Niger Delta have been deprived of control over their region’s resources.
“The constitution before independence which offered resource control was mutilated by illegal military governments and this injustice is yet to be addressed,” the group said.
The group which claims to be fighting for resource control in the Niger Delta region claimed responsibility for detonating two car bombs in the Niger Delta city of Warrion on March 15 this year.
MEND, which is part of a group of rebels fighting for resource control in the Delta region, said “a third and most powerful” bomb did not explode but would be used for future attacks.
Militants in the delta have targeted pipelines and resorted to kidnappings, while fighting government troops since 2006.
Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had granted amnesty to the militants but MEND had rejected it, opting for a negotiation with the government through mediators.