KANO (AFP) – A blast hit a local government headquarters in Zaria, northern Nigeria, on Tuesday, as primary schoolteachers and public sector staff were undergoing identity checks, two workers said.
“The explosive went off at about 9:00 am (0800 GMT)… The area has been taken over by security personnel but high casualties are likely,” local government worker Mahmud Abbas told AFP.
Zaria is located some 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the capital Kaduna city in the north of Kaduna state, not far from the border with Katsina and Kano states.
Late on Monday night, a young girl believed to be just 13 was killed when explosives strapped to her body detonated near a major mosque in Kano city.
The explosion came a day after another suicide bomber blew himself up at a church in the city of Potiskum, Yobe state, killing five people and a twin attack in the central city of Jos that killed 44.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Zaria has been attacked before by Boko Haram Islamists, who have increased their attacks on civilians in the last month.
In March last year, a cleric who had criticised the group was shot dead with his wife and son as he drove home from teaching a theology class.
In June 2012, bomb blasts ripped through two churches, killing several worshippers and injuring many others. Boko Haram claimed the attack.
Abbas said local government workers and primary school teachers were undergoing screening to identify potential ghost workers on the state payroll.
Another staff member who was waiting outside, Mohammed Abubakar, said: “We were taking turns going into the hall in batches for the screening and also to get our pay checks.
“The first batch had gone in. There were almost 100 people there, including the staff, the screening committee and accountants from the banks.
“There was a huge explosion inside the hall followed by billows of smoke and dust. Now the area has been cordoned off by security men.
“I can t give you an exact toll but I believe that dozens must have died given the number of people inside and the sound ofthe explosion.”