Blasts kill at least 10 at market in Nigeria's Maiduguri

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 22, 2015 1:33 PM

MAIDUGURI (Reuters) - Two explosions killed at least 10 people at a crowded market in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Monday, witnesses and sources said.

The first attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber with firewood concealing explosives, a witness said. A second device hidden a few meters away exploded around five minutes later, said a military source.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in a six-year insurgency in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation and top oil exporter.

"The woman was carrying a bowl with firewood inside and suddenly, the bomb went off," witness Ali Bukar said. He said the woman and five others were killed.

A source at State Specialist Hospital Maiduguri said the death toll was 11, and 60 injured were admitted for treatment. A Reuters witness at the hospital counted 10 dead bodies.

Boko Haram, which wants to set up an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria, has killed around 100 people in Maiduguri in the past month.

The group occupied territory about the size of Belgium in the northeast at the start of the year before being pushed out of most of the land by Nigeria's armed forces, backed by troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari instructed the army on Monday to remove soldiers from military checkpoints in relatively secure parts of the country as part of an effort to concentrate on ending the insurgency.

"Military checkpoints could be retained in areas outside the northeastern states where the military considered them absolutely essential for the maintenance of national security," said Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu.

The change comes a few weeks after the command center for the military operation against Boko Haram was moved to Maiduguri, the largest city in the country's northeast. Buhari announced that move in his inauguration speech on May 29.

Buhari has vowed to crush Boko Haram and has held talks with his counterparts from Chad, Niger and Cameroon to set up a regional force to fight the group.

Authorities in Chad said the group was also responsible for two suicide attacks in that country's capital last week that killed 34 people and injured dozens of others.

(Reporting by Lanre Ola; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Tom Heneghan)