- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2011

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A bomb exploded at a Nigerian ruling-party rally for a northern governor Thursday, killing three people and wounding 21 others as a decisive April election looms for the oil-rich nation.

Attackers threw the explosive from a speeding vehicle as it passed the rally in Niger state, federal police spokesman Olusola Amore said. Mr. Amore said the bomb bounced and landed at the feet of women who set up a market to sell goods to those attending the rally for Babangida Aliyu, the gubernatorial candidate for the People’s Democratic Party.

Mr. Amore said police had no immediate suspects. Members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps treated some victims and transported them to hospitals in Suleija, the site of the rally, corps spokesman Emmanuel Ekeh said.

Mr. Aliyu was not injured in the attack. In 2007, he became governor of Niger state, a rural jurisdiction with two major hydroelectric dams on the Niger River that provide much-needed electricity for the nation.

The blast comes as Nigeria faces a set of April elections that will decide who will govern the crude-rich nation that is a major supplier to the United States.

Mr. Aliyu’s rally in Suleija took place as former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari held a major political rally in Minna for his own presidential bid as the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change.

Since becoming a democracy in 1999, Nigeria has been dominated by the People’s Democratic Party. The party, made up of business and political elites, is the only force with the money, connections and muscle necessary to rig the country’s fraud-filled elections. However, opposition parties have made gains in recent years as courts overturned flawed elections and the public grew increasingly exasperated with the graft and mismanagement plaguing the country.

But violence remains a part of the country’s elections. Political killings were reported in the run-up to the country’s last set of elections four years ago. This year, bombings have targeted a gubernatorial candidate in the oil-producing southern delta, while a radical Islamic sect claimed responsibility for the assassination of a candidate in the country’s restive northeast.

Bashir Adigun reported from Abuja, Nigeria.




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