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Car bombs kill at least 118 in central Nigeria

Boko Haram is suspected

A young boy pushes a wheelbarrow past the wreckage of a burnt vehicle and burning shops following a bomb blast at Terminus Market in the central city of Jos, Nigeria.

AFP/Getty Images

A young boy pushed a wheelbarrow past the wreckage of a burnt vehicle and burning shops following a bomb blast at Terminus Market in the central city of Jos, Nigeria.

JOS, Nigeria (AP) — Police anti-bomb squad officers on Wednesday dug into a crater left by one of two bombs that exploded in a bustling marketplace and bus station in a central Nigerian city as people searched for missing loved ones after the horrific attack that left at least 118 people dead.

Security forces cordoned off the area of mounds of rubble, burned-out vehicles and razed buildings with the debris of panic scattered around — a sandal here, a hat there.

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Gloria Paul was among a handful of people at nearby Bingham University Teaching Hospital, searching for her husband. All she found was his car parked near Terminus Market, all the windows shattered.

Coordinator Mohammed Abdulsalam of the National Emergency Management Agency said they were waiting for earthmovers to arrive to search for more bodies buried under rubble.

The search for survivors was halted Tuesday night by fires ignited in buildings by the massive blasts that were heard miles (kilometers) away. Firefighters fought through the night to douse the blazes that collapsed buildings, Abdulsalam told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

At least 118 bodies were delivered to hospital morgues after the Tuesday afternoon blasts, and 64 people were hospitalized, he said.

Hundreds of people gathered at hospitals and morgues, in search of missing loved ones.

‘‘We expect to find more bodies in the rubble,’’ Abdulsalam said.

President Goodluck Jonathan indicated that he blames the Boko Haram terrorist network for Tuesday’s attack, assuring Nigerians their government ‘‘remains fully committed to winning the war against terror.’’

No group has claimed responsibility but Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network has been waging a bombing campaign.

The 5-year-old Islamic uprising has grabbed international attention with the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls who the extremists are threatening to sell into slavery.

On Monday a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of the northern Muslim city of Kano, where police later defused another massive car bomb. Two separate bomb blasts in April around another bus station, in the nation’s capital of Abuja, killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.

Jos sits on a volatile fault line dividing Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south. Boko Haram wants to impose an Islamic state under strict Shariah law in Nigeria, though half the country’s 170 million people are Christians.

The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place after regional and Western leaders pledged ‘‘total war’’ on the militant group at a weekend summit in Paris.

The insurgency has become ever-deadlier, with more than 2,000 people killed this year compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013.

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Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria.

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