MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Suicide bombers attacked a checkpoint and bustling bus station in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri on Friday, killing four of themselves and two civilian defense fighters, police said.
It was the fifth attack in three weeks on the city that is the birthplace of Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram.
Before 4 a.m. Friday, police challenged two women and a man running toward the checkpoint opposite the Federal High Court, police commissioner Damian Chukwu said. One woman detonated, killing herself and the male accomplice. The other woman has been arrested and is being interrogated, he said.
Two more suicide bombers blew up around 8 a.m. at a bus and taxi station on the outskirts of the city, killing themselves and two civilian fighters who combat Boko Haram alongside security forces, Chukwu said.
Boko Haram has recently stepped up attacks after a months-long lull in the 7-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed more than 20,000 people.
Security forces have managed to foil most attacks.
On Oct. 29, two women suicide bombers blew up outside a refugee camp, killing five people. The next day, troops shot and killed a suicide bomber as he ran toward the same camp. On Nov. 1, a car bomb exploded, killing all nine people in the vehicle. Last week, soldiers shot at three female suicide bombers, detonating some explosives and killing all three.
Nigerian troops this year have driven the insurgents out of most towns in the northeast. But now the insurgents are fleeing south into the central-eastern state of Taraba, the state director for Nigeria's secret intelligence agency, Shehu Saulawa, told senators there on Thursday.
The insurgency has spread across Nigeria's borders, forced some 2.6 million people, mainly farmers, from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis in which the United Nations says 14 million people face starvation.
Associated Press writer Ismail Alfa Abdulrahim contributed to this report from Maiduguri.