September 18, 2011 / 9:14 PM / 8 years ago

Nigeria sets $160,000 bounty on U.N. bomb suspect

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s state security service has offered a 25 million naira ($160,051) reward for information leading to the capture of the suspected mastermind behind a suicide bomb on U.N. headquarters in the capital last month that killed 23 people.

Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect which wants sharia law more widely applied across Africa’s most populous nation, has taken responsibility for the attack, where the bomber slammed a car packed with explosives through security gates and into the entrance of the U.N. building before detonating the device.

“Following the bombing of the United Nations building on August 26, 2011 in Abuja by Boko Haram, which claimed about twenty three lives, Mamman Nur was identified as the mastermind and security agencies subsequently declared him wanted,” a statement from the government state services department said.

“He is still declared WANTED. A reward of twenty five million naira is being offered for information that could lead directly to the apprehension or conviction of Mamman Nur.”

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, also claimed a bomb in the car park of police headquarters which narrowly missed the chief of police and has been blamed for almost daily killings in its home base in the remote northeast.

The U.N. attack was the first known suicide bombing in Nigeria. It marked an escalation in the group’s tactics and revealed a step up in the sophistication of explosives it uses.

Intelligence officials have said evidence suggests some Boko Haram members have trained in Niger and have connections with al Qaeda’s North African wing.

The United States has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Boko Haram and its cooperation with al Qaeda.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh; additional reporting by Bello Buhari in Kaduna; Writing by Joe Brock

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