A blast struck a market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola on Tuesday evening, killing at least 32 people and wounding 80 others, both the Red Cross and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.
The explosion occurred at a fruit and vegetable market beside a main road in the Jimeta area of Adamawa’s state capital about 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The area, which also houses a livestock market, was crowded with shoppers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has killed thousands over the last six years in its bid to create a state adhering to strict Sharia law in northeast Nigeria.
“Thirty-two people were killed and 80 have been injured,” said a Red Cross official who asked not to be named. NEMA regional spokesman Alhaji Sa’ad Bello later gave the same casualty figures.
Most victims were vendors and passers-by, said Deputy Superintendent Othman Abubakar, the police spokesman for Adamawa state.
Tuesday’s bombing came less than a month after at least 55 people died when suicide bombings struck two mosques in different cities in northeast Nigeria.
A massive blast on October 24 in Yola killed 27 people during a Friday afternoon prayer that included officials helping to inaugurate a new mosque, the National Emergency Management Agency said.
Earlier on the same day in the city of Maiduguri — the capital of Borno state and birthplace of the armed group Boko Haram, another suicide bomber killed 28 people in an attack on a mosque.
Last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari was in Yola to decorate soldiers for bravery in the fight against Boko Haram as well as visit a camp for people displaced by violence that have left at least 17,000 people dead.
He told troops he believed Boko Haram “are very close to defeat” and urged soldiers “to remain vigilant, alert and focused to prevent Boko Haram from sneaking into our communities to attack soft targets.”
Since losing most of the territory they took over earlier this year to the Nigerian army, the Boko Haram fighters have focused attacks on markets, bus stations and places of worship, as well as hit-and-run attacks on villages.
Suspected members of Boko Haram have killed around 1,000 people since Buhari took office in May, vowing to crush the group.
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Just two days after protests took place in Kyiv demanding the ouster of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, his office was fired at on Nov. 2 at 10 p.m. while a meeting was under way inside. No one was hurt.
Olena Hitlyanska, a spokeswoman for the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, announced the news on her Facebook page under the heading, “Horror!!!”
According to Hitlyanska, the shooting occurred as a “meeting was taking place between the head of the agency in his office and his subordinates.”
SBU investigators were sent to the scene.
Hitlyanska told Interfax-Ukraine that a criminal case had been opened over the matter on the charge of endangering the life of a civil servant. The charge carries a maximum life in prison sentence.
In mid-October Shokin told Fakty newspaper that he sleeps in different safe houses during the week for safety reasons, adding that he fears attempts on his life and drives in an armored Mercedes that the prosecutor’s office leased for a year.
“(My) bodyguards periodically change license plate numbers on the car, as well as the routes I take and places of sleep. I truly, for safety purposes, stay in different apartments,” Shokin told Fakty in an interview published on Oct. 15.
The incident of Nov. 2 comes amid growing public resentment of Shokin for his inability to prosecute serious crime and his alleged obstruction of investigations into high-level corruption, including within his own ranks.
On Oct. 31, a group of about 200 protesters drove to President Petro Poroshenko’s home to demand that he fire Shokin. The “Poroshokin” demonstrators accused the prosecutor general of derailing corruption cases, protecting corrupt officials and obstructing the investigation into the murders of more than 100 protesters during the EuroMaidan Revolution.
A petition by lawmakers to vote on Shokin’s ouster has so far gathered some 120 out of the required 150 signatures in parliament as of Nov. 2.
The Ukrainian branch of Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, said in a statement on Nov. 2 that the country’s leadership and Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin were trying to turn anti-corruption bodies into their “puppets.”
The devastating critique comes amid a drive in the Verkhovna Rada to oust Shokin and mounting accusations that he is sabotaging all high-profile criminal cases.
Critics of Shokin’s performance include Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry; Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Jan Tombinski, the European Union’s ambassador.
Andriy Demartino, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, declined to comment.
“Transparency International Ukraine believes that Prosecutor General Shokin is personally responsible for the failure of the fight against high-ranking officials’ corruption,” Transparency International said.
The watchdog said that Ukraine’s leadership “is trying to establish control over key anti-corruption bodies in order to make them work in their own interests.”
“Thus officials deprive Ukraine of a future without corruption and citizens of the opportunity to travel to Europe visa-free,” the organization said, referring to Shokin’s failure to comply with E.U. requirements for introducing a visa-free regime. “With the obvious approval of the country’s leadership, Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin is trying to make the newly-created anti-corruption prosecutor’s office as dependent as possible.”
Transparency International also said that “Shokin’s attempts to create a rubber-stamp anti-corruption body prove that he doesn’t want to carry out any reforms either at the prosecutor’s office or in anti-corruption efforts.”
The organization said a smear campaign had been launched against Transparency International and Ukrainian law firm Arzinger, where reformist Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaly Kasko had previously worked. Transparency International attributed the campaign to “corrupt top officials’ desire to turn new anti-corruption institutions into tame monkeys.”
Vitaly Shabunin, head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center’s executive board, told the Kyiv Post that representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office delegated by Shokin to the commission for choosing the anti-corruption prosecutor had been trying to block Kasko from becoming a candidate. Shabunin is a member of the commission.
Shokin’s choice of four controversial people for the commission has been criticized by lawmakers, civic activists and the E.U.
One of them, First Deputy Prosecutor General Yury Sevruk, has been accused of sabotaging reform at the Prosecutor General’s Office. Another member – Yury Hryshchenko, head of the office’s main investigative department – has been lambasted because he was the boss of prosecutor Volodymyr Shapakin, who was arrested in a bribery case in July.
According to the Yevropeiska Pravda newspaper, Shokin has ignored demands by the E.U. and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry to replace his members of the commission with independent representatives of civil society. Moreover, he has started a war on the Foreign Ministry by initiating a check of the legality of its demands, the newspaper said.
Critics also say that Poroshenko has attempted to reduce prosecutors’ independence by passing a law that gives the president and the pro-presidential majority in parliament the power to appoint members of the commission for choosing the anti-corruption prosecutor.
In an apparent effort to respond to the mounting criticism of his work, Shokin held a news briefing on Nov. 2 jointly with Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, to talk about high-profile criminal investigations.
Specifically, Shokin and Hrytsak presented evidence against Hennady Korban, an ally of tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky who was arrested on Oct. 31 on organized crime, embezzlement, kidnapping and hijacking charges.
Shokin and Hrytsak also showed a video in which Radical Party lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk, who was arrested in September on bribery charges, admits during an interrogation that he took a bribe. Mosiychuk subsequently claimed he had confessed under torture.
Critics see the arrests of Korban and Mosiychuk – both opponents of President Petro Poroshenko – as examples of politically motivated selective justice. Currently, no high-ranking ex-allies of disgraced former President Viktor Yanukovych or allies of Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk are behind bars, despite increasing evidence of wrongdoing.
When asked why only Poroshenko’s opponents were under arrest, Shokin urged the Kyiv Post to present evidence of other politicians’ crimes to him.
Shokin said at the briefing that employees of the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office had tried to serve summons to Oleksandr Vilkul, Natalya Korolevska and Vadym Novynsky – ex-allies of Yanukovych – in the Verkhovna Rada on Nov. 2 but they were not in the building.
He said that Korolevska and Vilkul were expected to be questioned on Nov. 5. Shokin added that he could ask the Verkhona Rada to strip lawmakers from the Opposition Bloc, an offshoot of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and other parties of parliamentary immunity if there is enough evidence of their crimes.
The Interior Ministry said Novynsky had agreed to be interrogated. According to media reports, Vilkul is currently abroad, while Korolevska said she was in Kyiv and denied getting a summons.
Shabunin said he doubted that the cases against Vilkul, Novynsky and Korolevska would lead to their arrests.
“If they had wanted to detain them, they would have acted in the same manner as when they arrested Mosiychuk and Korban,” he said. “This means that their goal was not to detain (the ex-Yanukovych allies) but to stage a PR stunt in an effort to reduce the resentment over the absence of ex-Party of Regions members (behind bars).”