Abuja : At least 18 people were killed Friday when a suicide car bomb rocked the UN building in Nigerian capital Abuja, officials said.
The attack took place around 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) in the diplomatic zone in the centre of the city, close to the US embassy, BBC reported. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The building is home to the main UN missions operating in Nigeria and reportedly had as many as 400 people inside.
Police Commissioner Michael Zuokumo told CNN eight people were injured. Among those injured were UN staff and visitors to the complex.
A National Hospital mortuary department official told Xinhua eight bodies were deposited there that included two women. Sources at Garki Hospital said two bodies were brought in there.
The bomb was reportedly planted in a vehicle driven by a lone occupant through the exit gate of the building.
A private guard on duty was killed while a UN security staff at the gate was wounded.
The vehicle rammed into the reception area, destroyed furniture and electronic gadgets before exploding. Two receptionists were killed instantly, a security source told Xinhua.
Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, told CNN the driver had passed through the first and second gates of the compound up to reception before detonating the explosives.
A witness outside the building at the time of the attack told CNN she had seen a white SUV drive through the main gate of the compound quickly. She heard two explosions in quick succession, the second one much larger and followed by the shattering of glass.
A bank and a travel agency – which operate within the UN building – were also affected by the blast.
A survivor told Xinhua that when the explosion occurred, customers were in the bank while many would-be travellers were also inside the travel agency office.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack. “This brutal act has killed and injured many innocent people, and I utterly condemn those who have carried it out.”
Deborah MacLean, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Abuja, told CNN there was no damage to the embassy building, which is near the UN building.
Islamist militants have carried out recent attacks in the city. A car bombing at the police headquarters in June was blamed on Islamist sect Boko Haram, a group that wants the establishment of Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria.