50 People Killed at Mosque Bomb Attack in Nigeria, Police Say

Updated on
  • Deadliest suicide attack in three years hits town of Mubi
  • Teenage bomber walked into mosque during early morning prayers

At least 50 people were killed in a suicide blast in a northeastern Nigerian town, the deadliest mosque bombing in three years by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants.

The teenage male assailant entered a mosque in the town of Mubi strapped with improvised explosives and detonated them as people gathered at dawn for prayers on Tuesday, Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar said by phone from the state capital, Yola. The police are investigating the incident, he said, declining to comment on who might be responsible for the attack.

It is the deadliest mosque attack since 2014, when more than 100 people were killed in suicide blasts targeting the main mosque in northern Nigeria’s biggest city of Kano. While no group took responsibility, it fell into a pattern of violence carried out by the Boko Haram militant group in its bid since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic rule in Africa’s most populous country of more than 180 million people.

“The attack clearly underscores the fact that Boko Haram is not yet defeated and continually poses a serious challenge to security, as well as to humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in the northeast,” Nnamdi Obasi, senior analyst at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said in an emailed response to questions.

Such attacks “could rob” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his party of “one of the major success claims they very much need in campaigning for re-election in 2019,” he said.

Boko Haram, which once controlled Mubi, has lost most of the territory it seized to a sustained military offensive since 2015, forcing it to resort to guerrilla tactics in its eight-year-old insurgency that has left more than 20,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes.

“People were getting relaxed” after Boko Haram was forced to retreat from the town, according to police spokesman Abubakar. “This shows they need to stay vigilant,” he said.

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