ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Prosecutors on Friday accused four men of organizing a suicide bombing at United Nations headquarters in Nigeria that killed 23 people, bringing charges that carry the death penalty.
The four men charged came in a group of 19 brought before a magistrate court in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, all accused of belonging to the radical Muslim sect that claimed responsibility for the attack that also wounded 116 others.
In charging documents, prosecutors said Abdusalami Adamu, Danzumi Haruna, Salisu Mohammed and Musa Mukailu of Kano ordered a suicide bomber driving a Honda sport utility vehicle to attack the world body’s headquarters.
The men didn’t make pleas as Magistrate Judge Azubuike Okegu said the case should be transferred to the Nigeria’s Federal High Court system. He ordered the suspects held until a court appearance Nov. 3.
It was not immediately clear if the men had lawyers. Prosecutors also said 25 people died in the car bomb attack, up from an estimate of 23 offered by the U.N.
A radical Muslim sect known locally as Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language, claimed responsibility for the attack. The sect has assassinated local officials and bombed locations around Nigeria in the last year as it continues its campaign for the strict implementation of Shariah law across the country.
Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is split largely between a Christian south and a Muslim north. Unemployment and unceasing poverty, coming despite the nation making billions a year from oil production, have fueled resentment in recent years in the north. Boko Haram and other extremist groups have tapped into that unrest.
Others charged Friday included a man accused of planning and carrying out a New Year’s Eve bomb attack on an army barracks in Abuja that killed at least four people and wounded 21 others. The charges against Hamisu Husseini were the first time authorities blamed that attack on the Boko Haram sect.
Another man, Mohammed Misbau, faces charges over launching an attack in Bauchi state that saw suspected Boko Haram members bomb a police station and robbed a local bank. Others face charges over illegally having firearms and plotting terror attacks on behalf of Boko Haram.
Prosecutor Chijioke Okezie told the court security agencies continued to investigate the crimes and that more arrests and charges could be possible.
Associated Press Writer Jon Gambrell in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.