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Explosion In Nigeria Hits Gathering Of World Cup Fans

An explosion has rocked a northeastern Nigeria town where people had gathered to watch World Cup soccer on television, security officials say.

There were reports of casualties, but it was not immediately clear how many or whether anyone had been killed. Reuters quotes witnesses to the blast at the town of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, as saying they saw several trucks carry bodies to a local hospital.

The BBC says:

"Open-air viewing centres - where people pay to watch live football - are popular throughout Nigeria.

"However, the Nigerian authorities have warned residents in some states to avoid public screenings of the World Cup, fearing militant attacks.

"On Thursday, the north-eastern state of Adamawa ordered all venues planning to show live coverage of the football tournament to close, saying they had received intelligence of planned bomb attacks.

"The states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have been under a state of emergency since May 2013. At least 2,000 people have died in the north-east since Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009.

"Analysts say Islamist militant groups, including Boko Haram, have described football as un-Islamic."

Update at 8:10 p.m. ET.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that "Earlier this month, more than a dozen people were killed in a bomb explosion targeting another popular, informal soccer watching venue in northeastern Nigeria."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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