March 2 (Bloomberg) -- More than 50 people died in explosions yesterday at a crowded marketplace in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, in bombings suspected to have been carried out by Islamist terrorists.
Locals and anti-insurgent vigilante group members counted 51 bodies after explosions in the Ajilari area of the northeastern city, Modu Kolo, a 33-year-old resident, said by phone today. The death toll may be higher, he said. The National Emergency Management Agency said 56 people were taken to the hospital, 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 bombings come 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 attacks since the start of the year, Amnesty International said on Feb. 28.
In the Maiduguri attack, improvised explosive devices were believed to have been planted by Islamist militants from the Boko Haram group, Borno state military spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole said by phone yesterday, declining to give casualty figures.
“Troops have already cordoned off the area and we are trying to fish out the perpetrators,” said Dole.
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 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.
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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