Nigerian officials were misled or severely misinformed about the source of deadly explosions early this week in the central region of the country, according to a report from the Red Cross issued Thursday.
The Nigerian Red Cross said that a bomb thrown by one of two men on a motorcycle exploded in an auto parts store, killing seven people. The attack is typical of Islamist terror sect Boko Haram, who has conducted a string of attacks throughout Nigeria in the last two years.
Local law enforcement had called the attacks an unfortunate accident.
“It is a very sad incident and as at now we are still working and fire is raging, and if you observe this is where they sell batteries, acid and gas and we are suspecting it is within and not saboteurs,” Kaduna State Police Commissioner Ballah Magaji Nasaraw told reporters.
But the government’s inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to identify and prevent Boko Haram attacks in contentious regions is becoming a problem for civilians in the region, of whom many are persecuted Christians.
The problem appears to be both local and national. President Goodluck Johnathan has been criticized for not doing enough in critical areas of the country.
Boko Haram operates out of the mostly Islamic north. Christians occupy the south and the middle of the country has been the seen of escalating religious violence.
Last month, Johnathan sent three troops of soldiers to Yobe state, where a Nov. 4 attack killed more than 150 people, including 120 Christians. A 24-hour curfew was issued, but was lifted after eight hours. Two people were killed shortly thereafter.
Boko Haram has since made the area its de facto headquarters.
Johnathan balked at warnings from the U.S. Embassy last month that Boko Haram were targeting buildings in the nation’s capital of Abuja. Days later, two fuel tankers were denoted by masked motorcyclists.
Government officials called the incidents, which occurred on opposite ends of town at nearly the same time, an accident.
Scores of attacks on police property, churches, government buildings, and civilian areas have been conducted with increasing frequency in the past several months.
Johnathan told foreign investors that Boko Haram was a “temporary problem.” Meanwhile, a U.S. Congressional report released last week named Boko Haram as the newest threat to American security.
Local governance is equally to blame. After hearing of the Red Cross reports, a spokesman for the Kaduna state police told reporters that they still believed the explosions were accidental, despite eyewitness reports and credible information from a reputable organization like Red Cross that indicated otherwise.
Tangentially, two weeks ago, a Boko Haram informant pinpointed a member of the Nigerian government who was allegedly aiding the terror sect by giving intelligence and funding. The government official was arrested and is awaiting trial. No other members of the government have been linked to Boko Haram.