Nigerian car bomb death toll hits 19

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The death toll from a car bomb that exploded on a busy road in Nigeria’s capital has risen to at least 19, police said.

The bomb was driven near a checkpoint where traffic built up, across the road from a busy bus station where a massive explosion on April 14 killed at least 75 people.

That blast was claimed by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram terrorist network in a video that threatened further assaults.

The city is hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa next week and the government is deploying 6,000 police to protect the event.

The event attracts world leaders, policy makers, philanthropists and business leaders to discuss Africa’s economic growth prospects. Chinese premier Li Keqiang is due to be among the guests, and Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan last week assured delegates they would be safe.

The explosion occurred in a working class suburb a 15-minute drive from the presidential villa and the hotel venue of the conference.

Police Superintendent Frank Mba told reporters the toll was up to 19 dead with as many wounded being treated in hospitals. Six cars were burned in the blast, he said.

Witnesses said a car laden with explosives was driven close to the checkpoint and a man jumped out and ran as it blew up. A deafening explosion was followed by smaller ones as other cars caught fire and fuel tanks exploded, they said.

The attacks are a major embarrassment that undermine government and military assurances that the Islamic extremists of Boko Haram had been contained in a north-eastern corner of the country.

Two unexploded bombs were found at the scene.