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16 people die after car bomb hits UN office in Nigeria

Firefighters and rescue workers at the scene of a large explosion at the United Nations' main office in Nigeria's capital Abuja, Aug. 26, 2011. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Saharareporters.

At least 16 people have been killed in a car bombing at a United Nations office in the capital of Nigeria Friday.

A radical Muslim sect seeking to implement Sharia law has claimed responsibility for the attack in the oil-rich nation. A spokesman for Boko Haram spoke with the BBC shortly after Friday’s bombing.

A car reportedly crashed through two separate gates at the UN compound and drove up to the main reception area. The driver then detonated the explosives-laden vehicle, destroying an entire wing of the UN complex.

About 400 people work at the offices in Abuja. As many as 40 people were reportedly treated at a local hospital after the blast.

Large cranes were brought in to remove concrete and rubble in an effort to find survivors.

Nigeria is divided between a mostly Christian south and Muslim north and faces threats on several fronts.

Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sacrilege,” is responsible for assassinations and bombings, including a car bombing in June at the federal police headquarters that killed two people.

With files from The Associated Press