Suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers killed at least 30 people in the first such attack on the northeast Nigerian town of Jimeta that has served as a refuge for victims of the Islamist militant insurgency.
The attack outside the Jimeta Modern Market at about 7:30 p.m. local time on Thursday left 40 others injured, said police spokesman Othman Abubakar.
“This is the first time we’ve recorded any attack of this nature here,” Abubakar said on Friday from Yola, the capital of Adamawa state and nearby the site of the assault.
The population of the greater Yola area has expanded rapidly as Boko Haram intensified its six-year insurgency in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Schools have been turned into makeshift camps and local residents have opened their homes to strangers fleeing violence. The towns have also attracted aid workers providing support for the internally displaced.
“There is no cause for alarm,” said Sa’ad Bello, the National Emergency Management Agency official responsible for camps in the state. “This is an isolated incident and pockets of isolated incidents are to be expected now that the terrorists have been dislodged.”
Boko Haram militants are increasingly resorting to guerrilla tactics including suicide bombings as Nigerian security forces backed by troops from neighboring countries, including Chad and Niger, have taken back territory.
The push to defeat Boko Haram raises fresh concerns about the army’s conduct, the United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday in an e-mailed statement. Accusations must be properly investigated that Nigerian forces are committing torture, summary executions and arbitrary arrests and failing to protect civilians during counter-insurgency operations, he said. The army has dismissed allegations of such abuses. Victims who have been freed from Boko Haram have spoken of their “absolute terror,” said Hussein.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office on May 29, has pledged to look into a report published this week by U.K.-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International, which says at least 7,000 young men died in military detention and more than 1,200 extra-judicial killings occurred since February 2012.
Boko Haram has killed at least 5,500 civilians since the start of last year, Amnesty International said in April.