bomb attack .photo; ackcity
At least 20 people were killed when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a bus station in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, a civilian vigilante and a survivor said on Monday.
“We have sorted out 20 dead bodies and 50 others that were injured,” said vigilante Danlami Ajaokuta and a survivor who escaped the blast near the city’s fish market on Baga Road.
A civilian vigilante assisting the military against Boko Haram who witnessed the incident said the bomb went off at about 3:50pm.
“We heard a loud explosion while we were preparing for afternoon prayers,” he said.
“It happened right inside the motor park (bus station) attached to the fish market where labourers were sorting out rice.”
He said that according to survivors’ accounts, a woman came into the bus station with a casserole dish, shouting out for customers.
“People were occupied with sorting the rice. No one paid any attention.
“Suddenly, the casserole, which obviously contained explosives, went off. She was blown to pieces… We have sorted out 20 dead bodies and 50 others that were injured.”
Ajaokuta’s account was supported by a labourer working at the scene who survived the blast, which sent people running in all directions in fear and panic.
“The rescue operation is still on, so the death toll may be higher at the end,” said the labourer, who asked not to be identified.
Reports from Maiduguri indicated that the bomber was a girl aged about 17 but there was no immediate confirmation of her age.
There were also indications of a second bombing by a girl about the same age outside the bus station but no one was hurt.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Boko Haram extremists have frequently targeted civilians at markets and bus stations during their six-year insurgency.
The Islamist bombers have also used young women and girls as human bombs since the middle of last year, as part of a campaign of terror in the restive northeast and beyond.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, has increasingly come under attack in the weeks since new President Muhammadu Buhari took office on May 29, vowing to wipe out the Islamists.
Monday’s bombing takes the number of attacks in the city to five this month. Three have been by suicide bombers and one targeted a cattle market.
On June 3, an improvised explosive device left outside a mechanics’ workshop on the Baga Road killed 18 while on May 30, 26 people were killed in a suicide attack at a city mosque.
With the latest attack, some 200 people have been killed since Buhari’s inauguration, according to AFP reporting.
Nigeria and its military coalition partners of Niger, Chad and Cameroon have claimed a series of successes against Boko Haram since February, pushing the rebels out of captured territory.
But its return to guerrilla tactics aimed at “soft targets” is a sign that the insurgency, which has cost at least 15,000 lives, is not over, according to analysts.