Red Cross: 51 killed in car bombs in Nigeria

2014-03-02 18:07
(Haruna Umar, AP)

(Haruna Umar, AP)

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Maiduguri - Twin car bomb blasts at a bustling marketplace killed at least 51 people in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of the country's Islamic extremist terrorist group, a Red Cross official said on Sunday.

Many more people are believed buried in rubble from the Saturday night explosions that collapsed some buildings and set others aflame with smoke billowing for hours, said the official, a resident who worked at the scene through the night but insisted on anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to reporters.

The victims include children dancing at a wedding celebration and people watching a soccer match at an outdoor cinema, survivors told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Fifty corpses were retrieved, said Hassan Ali, leader of an anti-terror vigilante group.

Some bodies were blown apart, said market trader Mallam Sumaila. An Associated Press reporter saw a corpse burned beyond recognition at a hospital where wailing families were collecting bodies for immediate burial, in the Muslim tradition.

The attackers chose a densely populated area with narrow alleyways that maximised the blasts, and a Saturday night when the market was open late.

The first blast came from a pickup truck carrying firewood and did not cause many casualties, said Ali. Most of those killed had run to the scene to help when a second explosion blasted from a passenger car, he said.

Survivors said they captured a man who jumped out of the car, grabbed a tricycle taxi and tried to make off. He was badly beaten and taken to nearby Umaru Shehu General Hospital, where a security guard said all the wounded brought in had died.

Most survivors insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals.

It was not known how many wounded are being treated in three hospitals in the city.

Military and police officials did not immediately offer comment and there was no claim of responsibility from Boko Haram, which communicates only through occasional videos.

- AP
Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa
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