Abuja/Maiduguri | At least least 80 people were killed and about 150 injured in multiple bomb attacks in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state, police and witnesses said today.
The state is the birthplace of the insurgency waged by Boko Haram and has been the focus of attacks by suspected members of the militant Islamist group that have killed more than 800 people since President Muhammad Buhari took office on May 29.
Three bomb blasts in the state capital Maiduguri around left at least 54 people dead and 90 injured. Around two hours later, two bombs exploded at a checkpoint some 135 km away at a market in the town of Monguno.Locals residents and a hospital source said that attack killed 27 people and injured 62 others.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but they bore the hallmarks of the jihad sect, which has been trying to carve out a state in the northeast of Africa’s most populous country since 2009.
A suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) at a mosque in Ajilari and some insurgents also threw IEDs at a viewing centre, Victor Isuku, a police spokesman in Maiduguri, said of the first attacks. Total casualty figure is now 54, he said.
A Nigerian army spokesman said on Sunday that three bombs had gone off. Local residents said a suicide bomber hit a market at Monguno, killing at least 27 people.
I counted 27 dead bodies from the scene, said Malum Sunoma, a local resident who helped with rescues. He was speaking on the phone from a hospital where his brother was being treated. Doctors and nurses were treating dozens of wounded – many of them for burns on their faces, hands and legs. The security forces were trying to keep order as relatives and friends rushed to the hospital to find out about the fate of their loved ones.
A new offensive launched by the Nigerian army to clear Boko Haram out of more towns over the last month has led to a sharp drop in the frequency of attacks in Borno, the worst affected by the insurrection, and neighboring states.
Maiduguri has been free of attacks for about a month. It was last hit by a bomb at the end of July and there was a skirmish with suspected Boko Haram militants on the outskirts of the city in mid-August.