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Eight killed in bombings at Nigeria’s jubilee

Eight people were killed in two car bombings in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, near to a parade celebrating the country's 50th anniversary of independence.

An hour before the blasts earlier today (Friday) rebel group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, put out a bomb warning, saying it had planted several devices at the parade and urging people to evacuate.

Security forces and firemen had been trying to douse a fire in a car triggered by the first blast, when a second explosion hit, said a cameraman for Reuters news service. People scattered and a young boy was seen being carried away to a nearby vehicle.

But TV coverage of the parade didn’t show anything of the blasts. President Goodluck Jonathan arrived in an armoured car before inspecting rows of soldiers from an open-top jeep.

MEND is Nigeria's biggest rebel group and has fought for years to get a bigger share of oil revenues for the poverty-stricken Niger Delta.

Also today, Nigerian troops and police freed a group of 16 children who had been kidnapped in their school bus, earlier this week.

A police spokesman said the children were unhurt and that the kidnappers would soon be arrested. "They have been freed," Abia state police spokesman Geofrey Ogbonna said.

"No ransom was paid ... None of them was hurt,” he told Agence France Presse news service."We believe that those abductors will soon be arrested," he added.

But the local chief, Danny Ubani, said some of the kidnappers had been killed and that the others had fled."During the operation, some of the kidnappers have been killed," he said. "Some of them are on the run."

The children from nursery and primary school were kidnapped on the outskirts of the city of Aba on Monday. Police said the gunmen ordered the bus driver to stop at t before taking the children. Authorities said all the children, who are between three and 10 years old, were Nigerian. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom to free the children.

There were mixed feelings surrounding the country’s golden jubilee, which comes the week after the Millennium Development Goal summit heard that Nigeria will need until at least 2025 to meet the 2015 target to halve child hunger.

"For a country endowed with such rich and fertile soils and Africa's largest oil reserves, it should be doing much better," said the charity, ActionAid.

Hayley attribution