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Rush-Hour Bomb Kills 71 People at Bus Station in Abuja, Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria - A bomb at a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Abuja killed at least 71 people during Monday morning's rush hour, police said.

Body parts and blood were strewn across the station after the first such attack near the Nigerian capital for two years.

"I was waiting to get on a bus when I heard a deafening explosion then saw smoke. People were running around in panic," witness Mimi Daniels said.

Image: Buses burnt after bombing in Abuja, Nigeria
These buses were destroyed by a bomb on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday. AFP - Getty Images

Police spokesman Frank Mba put the death toll at 71 with 124 others wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but suspicion is likely to fall on Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has waged an increasingly bloody insurgency in the northeast.

Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 60 people in an attack on a village in northeast Nigeria late last week. Eight people were killed in a separate attack at a teacher training college.

The Islamists, who want to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, have in the past year mostly concentrated their onslaught in the northeast, where their insurgency started.

There had been no attacks near the capital since suicide car bombers targeted the offices of Nigerian newspaper This Day in Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna in April 2012.

Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of largely Muslim northern Nigeria means "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and has forged ties with al-Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.