ABUJA, Nigeria – A man tried to smuggle grenades and rifle ammunition into Nigeria's Information Ministry where ministers were attending a news conference Monday, witnesses and authorities said.
The man apparently made it past the gate of the Radio House compound in Nigeria's capital Abuja, heading toward where the ministers were meeting before being stopped. Footage aired on the state-run Nigerian Television Authority showed the man sitting on the ground next to a woman's handbag that contained the rifle rounds and the grenades.
While police identifed the cannisters as hand grenades, at least one had the acronym "CS" and the word "riot" written on its side, likely making it a cannister of tear gas instead of a bomb. Another cannister bore similar markings to it, and the other appeared to a stun grenade.
As journalists shouted questions at the man after his arrest, he said that he had come from a neighboring state and was trying to give the bag to someone else inside the ongoing ministerial conference. The conference, aired live on state television Monday, continued uninterrupted.
Police later identified the man arrested as John Akapapu and said they had taken him into custody as they continued an investigation into the incident. A statement from federal police command said officers recovered 37 rifle rounds and three grenades after Akapapu's arrest, but did not offer any details about why the man carried the weapons onto the ministry's grounds.
Nigeria has been under increasing attack by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which has been blamed for more than 520 killings this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. Nigeria's capital also has been targeted in bombings carried out by militants from the country's oil-rich southern delta.
However, those attacks have been carried out largely by car bomb, not by attackers using military-style hand grenades.
Meanwhile, a police official said at least seven people had been killed in separate gun attacks likely carried out by sect gunmen in Maiduguri, a city in Nigeria's northeast where Boko Haram once had its main mosque.
Associated Press writers Haruna Umar in Maiduguri, Nigeria and Jon Gambrell and Yinka Ibukun in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.