28 August 2011
By ADAM NOSSITER
ABUJA, Nigeria — Investigators searched the rubble of the shattered United Nations headquarters building here in the Nigerian capital on Sunday as the number of deaths climbed to at least 21 and questions lingered about who bore responsibility for Friday’s suicide car bombing, even as men who said they were representatives of a radical Islamist sect claimed it.
Twisted metal rods hung down amid the debris in the darkened ground floor, piles of glass shards lay about the grounds and parking lot, and virtually every window in the front of the sprawling four-story building had been blasted out. Evidence of the suicide vehicle’s deadly full-speed surge — a twisted metal exit gate — lay on its side on the grass in front of the building. An unarmed United Nations guard was run over and killed while trying to stop it.
The building lies at the end of a long driveway, so the bomb-carrying vehicle was able to accelerate fully before it crashed through two barriers.
The bomb was perhaps no bigger than 100 pounds, according to the United Nations’ security chief, but it was still big enough to have wounded and killed scores, most of them Nigerian employees of the agency. F.B.I. agents arrived Saturday to help with the investigation at the building, which some United Nations officials said had been damaged beyond repair.
“I heard the bang, and I woke up in debris and a pool of blood,” Aniekan Etim Usanga murmured from his hospital bed here, his head swathed in bandages. Mr. Usanga, a World Health Organization employee, had been in a meeting on the second floor of the building, just above where the explosives-laden vehicle crashed into the reception area.
“Suddenly, there was a noise,” Ludovic Mabiala, another W.H.O. staff member, recalled from his hospital bed, his eyes half shut. “I saw some colleagues collapsing,” he said. “I walked toward them to assist them. That’s the last thing I remember.”