Nigerian police have boosted security across Abuja after a bomb blast ripped through a packed bus station killing at least 75 people, the deadliest attack ever to hit the capital.
Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu, who visited some major hospitals in Abuja where the wounded are being treated, gave a new death toll of 75, three higher than the previous toll.
Another 141 people were wounded in the blast, he said – lower than the figure released on Monday.
“We have a total of 216 victims (dead and wounded). As at yesterday we were talking of 236. That has been reviewed downward because there must have been some double-counting,” he said.
“Out of the 216, 75 are dead,” he told journalists.
Health ministry spokesman Dan Nwomeh told AFP the death toll may rise as more victims were identified – a difficult task as their “bodies were totally dismembered”.
The slaughter on the outskirts of Abuja has raised fears that a deadly insurgency waged by Boko Haram Islamists may be spreading from the remote northeast areas the group has primarily targeted in recent months.
Nigeria’s police chief Mohammed Abubakar has placed officers in the city on “red alert” and ordered increased security “at all vulnerable targets”.
Investigations into the attack are ongoing and security agents “are deploying the best investigative tools that will yield the desired results”, the police said in a statement on Tuesday.
Central Abuja, home to major hotels, foreign embassies and sprawling government complexes, has been mostly locked down for more than two years, with security reinforced after an August 2011 car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the city, also blamed on Boko Haram.