Blast kills 4 in popular southeastern Nigerian market

At least four people have been killed and a dozen more injured following a blast at a popular market in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Anambra, a witness and official have said.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, who heads the civil society group, Intersociety, and witnessed Tuesday’s incident, said the blast occurred in a section of the market that sells chemicals, leading to a fire that razed shops in the Onitsha market, one of the largest outdoor markets in West Africa.

“(Four) people died and scores (were) injured,” Umeagbalasi said.

Onitsha South local government area Chairman, Emeka Orji, confirmed the death toll to reporters, adding that at least 12 people were injured as they stampeded to leave the market.The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

Anambra state police spokesman said the casualty figure was unknown but the situation was under control.The state emergency management agency said it was investigating.

Anambra is one of the five states in the southeast of the country where violence, which authorities blame on separatist groups, is rising among youths who cite historical marginalisation.

Police in Nigeria are searching for 21 people abducted by gunmen while working on farmland whose owner is believed to have owed the alleged kidnappers coerced payments.

Katsina state police spokesperson, Gambo Isah, said on Thursday that the people kidnapped were teenagers working on a farm in the remote Faskari council area of the state when the gunmen “singled out the farm and abducted them”.

“According to our investigation, the bandits placed some levies on some of these farmers, and this particular one refused to comply with their demands,” Isah said. “That was why they went to their farm and kidnapped the workers,” Isah said.

Police and Nigerian soldiers from a nearby military outpost were working to find the abducted farm workers, who are ages 15-18, he said.

Residents in remote parts of the northwest and central regions of Nigeria targeted by armed groups have complained of gunmen requiring farmers to pay huge levies to work on their farmland.

Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been one of the hot spots in the abduction scourge. -Reuters

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