Two car bombs blew up as Nigeria celebrated its 50th independence anniversary today, killing at least seven people in an unprecedented attack on the capital by suspected militants from the country's oil region. A third and smaller explosion hit a venue at Eagle Square where President Goodluck Jonathan stood with other dignitaries, about a 10-minute walk from where the car bombs detonated.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main militant group in the country's oil-rich southern delta, had threatened to attack the festivities. We "warned the authorities ahead of time, who decided to ignore the warning," the group said. "The blame goes to the Nigerian authorities and ... we deeply regret any loss of life." The car bombings seemed designed to lure first-responders and then kill them with a second blast. "For 50 years, the people of the Niger Delta have had their land and resources stolen from them," the group said in a statement. While Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is oil rich most people live on less than $1 a day. The delta is very impoverished and polluted from spills.