Nigeria Abuja blast: Goodluck Jonathan cuts short visit

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Media captionThe BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi says no-one has claimed responsibility so far

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has cut short a trip to Equatorial Guinea following Wednesday's bomb attack in the capital, Abuja, his spokesman has said.

Security has been tightened in the city following the blast which killed 21 people and wounded 52 others.

Mr Jonathan's decision to return follows strong criticism that he is not doing enough to curb violence.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has stepped up attacks in Nigeria.

In April, it killed more than 70 people in a bomb blast at a bus stop on the outskirts of Abuja.

The group also said it was behind a car bomb attack near a bus station in the city's Nyanya suburb in May, which killed at least 19 people and injured 60 others.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The blast hit a busy shopping district
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Plumes of smoke could be seen miles away
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many of the injured were taken to Maitama General Hospital

It has not commented on the latest explosion, which ripped though a busy shopping district.

Police say a suspect has been arrested, but have not released details about him.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said Mr Jonathan received news of the blast as he was arriving at his hotel in Equatorial Guinea's capital, Malabo, for an African Union (AU) summit, Nigeria's privately owned Premium Times newspaper reports.

He decided to fly back to Abuja to deal with the crisis, Mr Abati said.

The BBC's Mansur Liman in the capital says the security forces have cordoned off the area around the blast.

Police have ordered an increase in security and surveillance operations in and around Abuja to prevent further attacks, he says.

Mr Jonathan's decision to return appears to be an attempt to address a growing public perception that he is not concerned about the plight of victims, our correspondent adds.

Who are Boko Haram?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the US government
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacks on police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram

The president was strongly criticised in April for addressing a rally of the governing People's Democratic Party's (PDP) in the northern city of Kano, a day after a bombing in Abuja.

He has also been accused of not doing enough to secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok town in north-eastern Nigeria in April.

The group has waged an insurgency since 2009 to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, but it has become increasingly brutal in recent years.

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