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September 20, 2017

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Death toll from car bomb in Nigeria capital rises to at least 19

ABUJA, Nigeria--The death toll from a car bomb that exploded on a busy road in Nigeria's capital rose to at least 19 overnight with 66 people wounded, police said Friday from the city that within days hosts an international conference.

The bomb was driven near a checkpoint where traffic built up, located across the road from a busy bus station where a massive explosion on April 14 killed at least 75 people. That blast was claimed by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram terrorist network in a video April 19 that threatened further assaults.

In a separate development, police said the number of missing girls kidnapped from a school by the zealots has risen to 276 — an increase of more than 30 over the previous estimate.

Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan said the actual number of girls and young women abducted the night of April 14 was more than 300, with the number who have escaped also rising, to 53.

He told a news conference Thursday night in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in the northeast, that the figures keep increasing because students from other schools were brought into one school for final exams last month after all schools in Borno state were shut because of attacks by Islamic extremists.

Authorities had originally reported 129 girls kidnapped and the military had claimed to have freed all but eight of them — compounding confusion.

Unverified reports this week indicated some of the girls have been forced into "marriages" with their abductors and some have been taken across borders into Chad and Cameroon.

The attacks and the military's failure to rescue the teenagers have gravely undermined confidence in the government and the military, which had been claiming to have contained the 5-year-old Islamic uprising to a remote northeastern corner of the country.

Hundreds of kilometers away In Abuja, in central Nigeria, the government has said it is deploying 6,000 police to protect the May 7-9 World Economic Forum on Africa, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as an honored guest. The forum will be in Abuja, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last week assured delegates they would be safe. It attracts world leaders, policymakers, philanthropists and business leaders to discuss Africa's economic growth prospects.

The Thursday explosion occurred in a working-class suburb just a 15-minute drive from the presidential villa and the hotel venue of the conference.

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