Bombing of World Cup Viewing in Nigeria


A suicide bomber attacked an outdoor, public viewing of the Brazil-Mexico World Cup match in Damaturu. Damaturu is the capital of the Nigerian state of Yobe, in the same northeastern region of Nigeria where members of the terrorist organization Boko Haram have made a steady series of attacks against their perceived religious opponents in recent years. The most notorious attack in northeastern Nigeria in recent memory was the kidnapping of several hundred schoolgirls, many of who remain missing, from their dormitory in April. Boko Haram has recently begun to target large public viewings of the World Cup, which are very common in many countries where soccer is a national pastime and not every household owns a television set. In Nigeria alone at least 40 people have been killed in World Cup-related bombings in the last week.

Currently there is no exact count of the number of casualties in Damaturu as victims of the blast are still being brought into local hospitals. Authorities have stated that there are at least 15 critically injured individuals who are now receiving treatment. Early reports from those at the scene have stated that at least seven others have been killed in the attack. Nigerian authorities have stated that they will increase security at World Cup viewings, however the military has seemed to be overwhelmed by the massive effort required to thwart attacks by the militant organization. This is in addition to the Nigerian military’s recent lack of success in their campaign against Boko Haram, as they have also stated that, while they have located the kidnapped schoolgirls, they remain unable to mount a rescue attempt that would not likely result in the deaths of many of the captives. As a result Nigerian officials have warned against individuals attending large public viewings that may become targets for terror attacks.

In Nigeria the state of Adamawa has ordered all public viewings of the World Cup to close due to the high probability of an attack. This state was the location of the first blast that occurred at a Nigerian World Cup viewings, however no organization has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Prior to the World Cup there was another bomb attack at a public viewing of a match in the state of Borno. Boko Haram opposes soccer as they claim that the sport is counter to the Islamic faith and attacks against the sport and its fans is part of their campaign to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. Their leader Abubakar Shekau has issued claims that soccer is a sacrilegious distraction from Islam.

Attacks by Islamic militants against soccer matches and World Cup viewings have an unfortunate history in Africa. During the previous World Cup in 2010 the Somali-based terror organization Al Shabab killed over 70 viewers during a pair of bombings at public viewings in Uganda. Last week another terror attack occurred in Kenya when a group of gunmen drove a pair of buses into a public viewing of the World Cup at a popular mall. However, this attack was not attributed to religious motivations as the terror organization responsible stated that the Kenyan attack was retribution for the presence of Kenyan peacekeeping troops in Somalia.


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