Massive Blast at UN Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria

The United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital was the target of an apparent terrorist attack earlier this morning. The BBC is reporting that several people were killed. From the Guardian.

Witnesses said police and emergency workers were carrying dead bodies from the building after the explosion, which happened just before 11am in the same neighborhood as the US embassy and other diplomatic posts.

Police and the wounded thronged around the three-storey building as searched for victims.

Alessandra Vellucci, a spokeswoman for the UN office in Geneva, said its offices in Abuja had been bombed. She told the Associated Press that there was no word yet on casualties.

Michael Ofilaje, a Unicef worker at the building, said: “I saw scattered bodies. Many people are dead.”

Apparently 400 people work at the complex. This is obviously very tragic news.

UPDATE: Twitter user blazeotokpa seems to be on the scene. BBC World tweets that a bomb-laden car ran into the building. Several news outlets are suggesting that the militant group Boko Harum may be responsible.  Last week, Adam Nossiter profiled the group in the New York Times. Follow updates on Twitter.

UPDATE II: From the New York Times: “an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed at least 18 dead and United Nations officials said the total number of dead and wounded was likely to rise considerably.”

UPDATE III: United Nations Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth: “We at the United Nations Foundation stand with the family, friends, and associates of our United Nations colleagues in Nigeria at this time of tragedy. Our thoughts, prayers, and support go out to them and to the extended, global family of the UN system that has been affected by this loss.”