Another bombing near Maiduguri

2016-03-16 20:11
Bomb scene, Nigeria. (Haruna Umar, AP)

Bomb scene, Nigeria. (Haruna Umar, AP)

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Maiduguri - At least 22 people were killed in a twin suicide bombing at a mosque in northeast Nigeria Wednesday, prompting condemnation from President Muhammadu Buhari and stoking fresh fears about security.

The attack, carried out by two women disguised as men, took place at about 05:30  (04:30 GMT) in the Molai district of Maiduguri, which Boko Haram insurgents have repeatedly targeted in the past.

Buhari, who in December declared the militants were "technically" defeated, said he was "dismayed by the... bomb attack on innocent worshippers".

"This attack is yet another sign that Boko Haram is a mindless and godless group that in no way represents true Islam," he wrote on Twitter.

The attack was only the second in northeast Nigeria this month and came after four raids and suicide bombings in February and eight in January - a marked fall in frequency since last year.

The military has said its sustained counter-offensive over the last year has the Islamists on the run, cutting off their supply lines and reducing their ability to conduct conventional fighting.

But fears remain about the group's use of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices against "soft" civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations.

The government in Abuja is actively promoting the return of hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict who have been living in camps or host communities in Maiduguri.

The sporadic attacks, including one last month at a camp for the internally displaced in Dikwa, some 90km east of Maiduguri, have made many of the homeless hesitant to return.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the bombing bore all the hallmarks of the Islamic State affiliate, whose insurgency has left at least 17 000 dead since 2009.

Both the Borno State Emergency Management Agency spokesman Abdullahi Omar and the army confirmed the powerful blast, which brought down the mosque's ceiling and tore off its roof.

"Sadly, 22 people were killed and 18 others sustained various degrees of injuries," army spokesperson Colonel Sani Usman said in an emailed statement.

A source at the state agency added: "This morning just before prayers two women disguised as men came by the mosque.

"One of them went in and joined the first row of the congregation and when the worshippers stood up for the prayers she detonated her explosives, killing several worshippers.

"While the others were trying to flee, the second woman who stood outside the mosque rushed in and set off her explosives in their midst."

The source, who asked for anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media, also gave the death toll as 22 but gave a higher figure of 35 injured.

Survivors of the attack and evidence from the rescue operation identified the bombers as women, he added.

Relative calm

Maiduguri, where the group was formed in 2002, has been relatively calm in recent months as a result of a heavy military presence and the counter-offensive.

But there are still question marks about its ability to protect civilians and property from guerilla-style attacks, particularly in hard-to-reach rural areas.

On January 31, at least 85 people were killed when insurgents attacked the village of Dalori, about 12km from Maiduguri, where a major displaced persons camp is located.

Maiduguri itself was last attacked on December 27, when 22 people were killed and 91 injured in a series of raids, shelling and suicide attacks in the Jiddari Polo area.

Usman extended his condolences to the victims' families and vowed to "rout the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists, wherever they may be hiding".

"We will not rest on our oars until all those that masterminded this latest heinous and other similar crimes are apprehended and brought to justice," he added.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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