Nigeria Bombings Kill 17 in North as Gunmen Attack APC Rally

Four suicide bombers detonated explosives killing at least 17 people in the northeastern Nigerian towns of Biu and Potiskum on Tuesday, as gunmen attacked an opposition rally in the southern oil-producing Rivers state.

Three bombers killed 14 people and injured 10 in the town of Biu in northeastern in the insurgency-hit northeastern state of Borno, Sulaiman Musa, a vigilante militia member at the scene of the blasts, said by phone. Last week two teenage female suicide bombers killed at least eight at a market in the town.

In Yobe state’s Potiskum, three people were killed after another bomber detonated explosives at a restaurant, police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin said by phone.

President Goodluck Jonathan said last week he expects the defeat of Boko Haram Islamist militants within weeks with newly acquired weapons and the cooperation of neighboring countries to battle the insurgents. Nigeria’s election commission on Feb. 7 moved national and state elections back by six weeks, citing concerns that there won’t be adequate security for voting as the army steps up its offensive in the northeast.

Gunmen opened fired on supporters of the opposition All Progressives Congress party at about 2 p.m. at southern Okrika’s national school ground, Ibim Semenitari, Rivers state’s commissioner for information, said by phone. She was unable to confirm casualties. Rivers state police spokesman Ahmad Muhammad said he would issue a statement later.

Dynamite Thrown

“Dynamite was thrown at a nearby primary school to scare our supporters away,” Semenitari said. “Later, gunmen opened fire on us and we had to leave the rally venue for our safety.”

Election-related violence in Nigeria is on the rise before presidential polls on March 28, threatening the stability of Africa’s biggest economy, the nation’s human rights commission said Feb. 13. At least 58 people were killed in more than 60 incidents monitored since December from 22 out of 36 states, covering all major population centers.

Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party will face a united opposition APC, led by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, in what analysts expect will be the tightest contest since the PDP came to power in 1999. An agreement signed in January by both candidates to undertake peaceful campaigns appears to have been broken, according to the human rights agency.

Both candidates have pledged to quash Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram. The militant group, which seeks to impose Islamic law, has expanded its six-year-old insurgency in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, to neighboring countries including Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

On Sunday and Monday, militants also attacked the northeastern town of Askira, burning buildings including the Emir’s palace, according to Musa Gana, a member of a vigilante militia group operating in the area.

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