Nigeria: Larger bomb plot foiled

2010-10-04 15:52

Abuja - Nigeria's secret service said on Monday it had foiled a larger plot to detonate at least six car bombs close to key government and security buildings in Abuja days before last Friday's independence day attacks.

Two car bombs exploded near a parade in the capital marking Nigeria's 50th anniversary of independence, killing at least 10 people and injuring 36, said police.

The State Security Service (SSS) said those responsible had planned a larger attack for September 29 in which at least six car bombs were to be detonated in the "three-arm zone" made up of the presidential villa, Parliament and the Supreme Court.

"The despicable act of terrorism, which eventually took place on October 1, was planned for Wednesday September 29 but was foiled as soon as information was received during the early hours of September 28," SSS spokesperson Marilyn Ogar told a news conference.

"The over-riding objective of the group was to scare foreign visitors from attending the 50th anniversary celebrations."

Main militant group

The attacks were claimed by Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), although President Goodluck Jonathan has said investigations showed the perpetrators used the group's name as a cover.

Henry Okah, believed to have long been a senior member of MEND, was charged in South Africa on Monday with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and the detonation of explosive devices in Abuja.

His lawyer said Okah was not involved in the bombing.

Ogar said nine arrests had been made.

"They all have direct links with Henry Okah, the incident and some unscrupulous prominent elements in society," she said.