Bomb attack in Nigeria capital ‘kills at least 16’

No group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist group which has killed thousands in a five-year insurgency.



The explosion rocked the crowded Nyanya bus terminal just a few kilometres from central Abuja at roughly 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) and emergency workers were at the scene trying to rescue the injured, said Manzo Ezekiel, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).


He told AFP that the work was complicated by darkness at the station, which is very poorly lit after sundown.


A bombing on April 14 that targeted morning commuters at the Nyanya terminal killed 75 people, making it the deadliest attack ever in Abuja.


Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, declared a global terrorist by the United States, said his group carried out the April 14 bombing in a video message obtained by AFP.


Speaking at the nearby Asokoro General Hospital, NEMA chief Muhammad Sani Sidi told journalists that a car packed with explosives blew up “just 50 metres” from the spot of the April 14 blast.


An AFP reporter at the hospital counted nine dead bodies which had been brought from Nyanya and a witness at the same hospital who requested anonymity said he had seen at least seven other corpses arrive.


In a statement, NEMA confirmed nine deaths so far and said at least 11 people had been left unconscious.


Victims were being treated at several other area hospitals, Sidi said.


“We are checking with various hospitals to ensure the accuracy of the number we are going to issue,” he told journalists.


Much of Boko Haram’s recent violence has targeted the remote northeast, the group’s historic stronghold, where more than 1,500 people have been killed already this year.


A second attack in two weeks just a few kilometres from the seat of government highlighted the serious threat the Islamists pose to Africa’s most populous country and largest economy.


President Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense pressure over the unrest, which has continued unchecked despite a massive year-long military offensive in the northeast aimed at crushing Boko Haram’s uprising.


The Nyanya station was completely inaccessible after Thursday’s blast, with the one access road blocked and cars backed up for several kilometres, an AFP reporter said.


Ezekiel, who said he lives near Nyanya and heard the bomb go off, described the road leading to the station as “jam packed”, adding that ambulances and rescue workers were struggling to reach the area.


The bombing came amid mounting public outrage after one of Boko Haram’s most shocking attacks, the mass kidnapping of more than 100 girls from their school in the northeast.


Officials and locals have offered contradictory figures for the number of girls taken, but the school’s principal has said that 187 are still being held hostage.


Boko Haram, which says it wants to create a strict Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, has attacked schools, churches, mosques and various symbols of authority in an insurgency that has killed thousands since 2009.

Snapchat adds real-time chat

Snapchat is adding a chat feature to its ephemeral messaging service.


Despite its name, the Snapchat app has never offered real-time conversation – until now. Previously, users were only able to send each other photos and videos that self-destruct a few seconds after they are viewed.

The Los Angeles startup said on Thursday that Snapchat users will be able to chat by swiping right on a friend’s name. When users leave the chat screen, messages will be automatically deleted. In keeping with Snapchat’s tradition, users can take screenshots of the chat if they want to preserve it.

Users will also be able to video chat, as they would with Skype or FaceTime.

Snapchat’s expansion comes at a time when mobile messaging apps are soaring in popularity as people look beyond traditional texting to communicate and share photos and videos. Some apps also accommodate more than just texts and photos, making them all the more appealing. Tango, for instance, allows music to be shared through Spotify’s streaming service. KakaoTalk lets people share voice memos and location, along with animated emoticons.

In one example of mobile messaging’s increasing value, Facebook, which reportedly has tried to acquire Snapchat for $US3 billion ($A3.25 billion), agreed to buy WhatsApp for $US19 billion in February. WhatsApp has half a billion users, up from 465 million in February. In comparison, Twitter had has 255 million users.

Other popular messaging apps include Facebook’s own messenger, as well as Tango, which has some 200 million users and recently received a $US215 million investment from China’s Alibaba Group. Another one, Viber Media, sold for $US900 million earlier this year to Japan’s Rakuten Inc.

Aussie Robertson behind in snooker semi

Australian Neil Robertson will have to come from behind to make the World Championship Snooker decider after giving up a first day lead to Englishman Mark Selby in their semi-final.


Robertson, fresh from a quarter-final win over Judd Trump in which he became the first player to make 100 competitive century breaks in a tour season, again enjoyed a three-figure break – 130 on the final frame of the day.

But he was playing catch-up with Selby who established a 5-3 lead on Thursday at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Robertson does however have recent history on his side having come from 5-1 down to beat Selby 10-7 in the final of the UK Championship, snooker’s second-most important tournament, in December.

Meanwhile Ronnie O’Sullivan maintained his charge towards a third successive World Championship title as he established a 6-2 lead over Barry Hawkins in the first session of their semi-final.

O’Sullivan has been in fine form during his pursuit of a sixth world crown of his career since coming from behind to defeat Joe Perry in the second round.

O’Sullivan swept past Shaun Murphy, himself a former world champion, in the quarter-finals with a session to spare and, in a repeat of last year’s final, wasted little time in establishing a four-frame lead in the best of 33 contest.

He took the first of the semi-final with a break of 63 before Hawkins levelled with a contribution of 96 and briefly went ahead with a break of 76.

But it was one-way traffic from then on, Hawkins’s mistakes and O’Sullivan’s skill seeing the champion, who made a break of 108 in the seventh frame before a missed red from his opponent let him take the next, pull ahead.

Tear gas at Turkish May Day protests

Turkish police have fired water cannons at protesters and some 100,000 workers have paraded in Moscow’s iconic Red Square as millions took to the streets around the world to mark International Labour Day.


Demonstrators were out in force on May 1 in parts of Europe, marching against unemployment and austerity policies while across Asia, workers turned out to demand better working conditions and salary hikes.

In Istanbul, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and water cannons against protesters as they tried to breach barricades leading to Taksim square on the anniversary of clashes that spawned a nationwide protest movement.

Even larger crowds gathered for May Day in Russia – but this time in support of their government – as a huge column of demonstrators waving Russian flags and balloons marched through Red Square to voice their support for President Vladimir Putin and his hardline stance on the Ukraine crisis.

The 100,000-strong march was the first time that the cobblestoned Moscow landmark had witnessed a May Day parade since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

The tone was markedly different in Greece, where thousands marched in the country’s two main cities of Athens and Salonika against austerity policies brought in during a disastrous debt crisis that led to mass lay-offs.

In Italy’s Turin, scuffles broke out between police and hundreds of protesters. Activists lobbed smoke bombs at police, who charged demonstrators in the northern industrial city, which has been badly hit by a painful two-year recession.

Thousands marched in France, with the biggest rallies in Paris and other major cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse targeting the Socialist government’s budget cuts to rein in the deficit.

Rallies also took place across Africa, Asia, Latin America and parts of the Middle East.

For Venezuelans, the focus was on wealthier suburbs of the capital, Caracas, as protesters took the opportunity for another rally against President Nicolas Maduro. Around 3000 people called for an end to the chronic shortages that have beset the country.

In Indonesia, protesters carrying portraits of leftist idols such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the country’s first president Sukarno, marched to the state palace in Jakarta.

Some sang and danced as others carried a three-metre-long toy octopus wearing a red hat with the words “Capitalist Octopus, Sucking the Blood of Workers”.

About 20,000 people rallied in Kuala Lumpur against price hikes implemented by Malaysia’s long-ruling government, which already is under domestic and international scrutiny over its handling of the search for a missing passenger jet that disappeared on March 8.

More than 10,000 workers marched to the labour ministry in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, demanding wage hikes and a ban on companies hiring cheap temporary or part-time workers.

Bombers aim to fly up the AFL ladder

No one is more relieved than teammate Jake Melksham to see Heath Hocking back in the Essendon lineup.


The Bombers are on a three-game AFL losing streak and sit uncomfortably on 2-4 after six rounds.

On Saturday night at Etihad Stadium they face the hard-nosed Western Bulldogs, who are ranked second for contested possessions.

The return of Hocking and club champion Brendon Goddard are causes for celebration for Essendon.

“BJ (Goddard) has that versatility where he can go back or forward,” Melksham told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve got Heath Hocking back who plays that really sacrificial role.

“So they are two bigger, experienced, stronger bodies who will boost our midfield.

“Heath is our tagger. I had to tag last week so I’m not sure if I’ll be tagging this week.

“It might make my job a little bit easier.

“I’ve experienced it first-hand, having to tag when he’s out of the team.

“The work that he does and the opponents that he comes up against are A-grade opponents. He’s very highly rated in our footy side.”

The Bulldogs are also on a 2-4 record and will be looking to ex-Bomber Stewart Crameri to continue his solid form.

Essendon’s three-time leading goalkicker has booted 14 majors for the Bulldogs.

Melksham dined with Crameri on Tuesday.

“He’s chosen to leave the footy club and we’re looking forward to playing him,” Melksham said.

“He was more worried about who is going to play on him. He is a tough match-up.”

Melksham says it’s a huge game for Essendon.

“The first six weeks were pretty tough for us and we’ve got that behind us,” he said.

“It’s a must-win. We need to get back up into the top eight.

“We want to be in the top four to be a contender in the finals.

“Our hard work really has to start from this week.”

Melksham says Jake Carlisle, who enjoyed a breakthrough season last year as a key defender but has struggled as a key forward in 2014 with three goals in six games, is showing signs of improvement.

“We just try to get him the ball as much as we can on the field. Our delivery hasn’t been great,” Melksham said.

“Around the club we’re just trying to get his confidence up.”

Former All-Australian defender Dale Morris returns for the Bulldogs, while Daniel Giansiracusa is one of four omissions.