Sect publishes video of Nigeria newspaper attack

Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A radical Islamist sect published a video Tuesday showing a smiling suicide bomber drive into the offices of a major Nigerian newspaper and blow himself up, an attack that killed at least three people and made journalists a new target of the extremist group.

The 18-minute video posted on YouTube includes new threats against journalists and major Nigerian newspapers, as well as the Hausa language services of Voice of America and Radio France International. An unnamed male speaker also threatens new attacks against Nigeria's weak central government, saying security forces continue to hold the wives and children of its followers hostage.

"If they destroy one brick from our building, we will destroy 500 from theirs," the man says in Hausa.

The video shows the suicide bomber drive a sport utility vehicle on April 26 into the Abuja offices of ThisDay, an influential newspaper. As a man softly prays, the car blows up, sending a massive fireball into the air.

The attack killed at least three people at the offices in Nigeria's capital. A separate bombing at offices the newspaper shared with other publications in the city of Kaduna killed at least four people.

In the video, a narrator blames ThisDay for publishing inaccurate and biased information about the sect known as Boko Haram. In particular, the man mentions a 2002 article published by ThisDay suggesting the Prophet Muhammad would have married a Miss World pageant contestant. The video also shows the photograph of the reporter who wrote the article, which sparked riots in Kaduna that killed dozens.

"The punishment for that is the person should be killed, especially when you're talking about Prophet Muhammad," the man says.

The reporter who wrote the article later fled Nigeria for Europe.

The narrator also warns other Nigerian newspapers that they will be attacked for their reporting, as well as the local services of VOA and RFI. Both the VOA and RFI broadcast via shortwave radio across Nigeria's Muslim north.

David Borgida, a VOA spokesman based in Washington, declined to comment on the specific threat posed by Boko Haram, but said the broadcaster "takes the safety of all its journalists very seriously."

Officials at RFI could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, is waging an increasingly bloody sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government. The sect is blamed for killing more than 450 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.

Diplomats and military officials say Boko Haram has links with two other al-Qaida-aligned terrorist groups in Africa. Members of the sect also reportedly have been spotted in northern Mali which Tuareg rebels and hardline Islamists seized control of over the past month.

The video shows a new sophistication of the sect. Past videos have simply shown the sect's leader Sheik Abubakar Shekau talking. Tuesday's video included images from an attack for the first time, as well as using another speaker besides Shekau to spread the sect's message.

It also reemphasizes the threat the sect poses to journalists in Nigeria, a country of more than 160 million people largely divided into a Christian south and a Muslim north. The sect previously killed two journalists.

"All these news agencies, God willing, we find their office, we're going to attack," the narrator says. "Anything that has to do with them, even their office, their workers."

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Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.

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