For the second time during this World Cup, there has been a bombing in Nigeria. The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram is suspected to be responsible for Wednesday morning's attack, this time at a shopping district at the Kasuwan Kuturu market in the Mubi area of Adamawa State in Nigeria. The blast reportedly killed 21 and injured 17 bystanders.
It happened just before the Nigerian national soccer team took the field in a match against Argentina. Fans on Twitter immediately started to draw the connection.
The BBC was first to report the news on Twitter, just before the singing of the anthems.
Earlier in the tournament, on June 17, a suicide bomber attacked a Brazil-Mexico World Cup viewing party, killing at least 14 people and injuring 26 others. At least 50 other people have been killed in soccer-related bombings since March, according to Quartz. In 2010, 74 people were killed by a terrorist attack while watching the World Cup final in Uganda.
The June 17 attack led officials in some parts of Nigeria to ban public game viewings, according to the BBC. FIFA also addressed that first attack, releasing a brief statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident in Nigeria. We offer our sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and friends.”
At the time, Nigerian team officials said that the only way to honor the victims is to continue winning.
“The only way we can console or condole these people who lost their lives or who were injured is to just do one thing: go ahead and beat Bosnia and qualify for the next round of the World Cup,” Emmanuel Attah, the team’s coordinator, told the Associated Press. “Football is like a religion in Nigeria...we know that beating Bosnia will not bring back the lives of all those who are dead but then it is our own way of saying ‘sorry for the loss.’”
The team pulled off the win, beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0. Nigeria fell to Argentina on Wednesday, but has secured a spot in the Round of 16. The team's next match is on Monday, June 30, at noon ET.
Nigerian officials are advising fans to watch from home, as watching the games in public now means risking their lives.That is easier said than done, as electricity and personal TVs are considered a luxury in many parts of Nigeria. Public TV viewing centers are more common, and watching the matches together is preferred by many Nigerians, according to a Nigerian journalist writing for Quartz:
"When most things around you appeared to be depressing, you hold dearly to whatever can keep you entertained. And so, for most Nigerians, faced with inefficient to non-existent public infrastructure and political leaders more interested in feathering their own nests and creating conflicts to cover up their sins, a few stolen moments dedicated to watching soccer could indeed be heavenly...Nigerian fans have had to watch this World Cup with half a mind wondering if it was the last thing they would do on earth. Over the past two months, several well-attended viewing centers in the northeastern part of the country have been attacked by Boko Haram terrorists."
He also explained that Boko Haram considers watching soccer to be sinful.
Team official Attah appealed to the militants to end the violence, saying, “I know some of them must have played football before, some of them must have been football fans...stop it. Embrace peace in our country. Nigeria was not like this before.”
Witnesses have been posting photos and videos to social media:
- Sports & Recreation
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- Boko Haram
- Abuja, Nigeria