At least 90 people died in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state after bombings and attacks carried out by suspected Islamist militants.
Two explosions yesterday evening at a crowded marketplace in the Ajilari area of Maiduguri left 51 people dead, according to a body count by locals and anti-insurgent vigilante group members, Modu Kolo, a 33-year-old resident, said by phone today. In a separate attack yesterday, gunmen invaded Mainok village, killing at least 39, said Bunu Kaka, a 42-year-old farmer who fled the hostility.
“As I was returning late night I heard gunshots as the attackers were moving from house to house killing everyone they saw,” Kaka said by phone today from Maiduguri, where he’s taking refuge. “I then hid myself in the bush.”
Nigeria’s security forces are struggling to contain Boko Haram, which has carried out a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Shariah, or Islamic law, in Africa’s most populous nation and biggest oil producer. Attacks have continued after President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states last May. Boko Haram’s name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language.
In the Maiduguri blasts, improvised explosive devices were believed to have been planted by Boko Haram, Borno state military spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole said by phone yesterday, declining to give casualty figures.
“We are trying to fish out the perpetrators,” Dole said. The military spokesman said today by text message that he had no details on the incident in Mainok. Local media reported that the village was set ablaze.
The violence comes after international condemnation of a school attack last week in the northeast that killed at least 29 students. More than 600 people have died in the violence since the start of the year, Amnesty International said on Feb. 28.
The National Emergency Management Agency said 56 people were taken to the hospital after the recent bombings, though the number killed in the two blasts couldn’t be confirmed yet, said Mohammed Kanar, NEMA’s northeast coordinator.
“It was at a very crowded area with shops and small businesses,” Kanar said by phone from Maiduguri today. “It’s a very, very horrible situation.”
The U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization in November. The group and Nigeria’s security services were among the worst human rights abusers in the country last year, the State Department said last week.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people since it started the insurgency with attacks across the mainly Muslim north and the capital, Abuja. Nigeria’s 170 million people are almost evenly split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims.
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