Scores dead in Nigeria mosque suicide blasts

'The human loss is unimaginable': Scores dead in Nigeria suicide blasts
3 min read
Two bombers, thought to be boys, detonated their explosives at a mosque and market in Mubi, northeast Nigeria.
There has been no let-up in Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria [File photo: Getty]

Suicide bombers killed more than 60 people at a mosque and a market in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, in a twin attack bearing the hallmarks of Boko Haram.

It comes a day after US President Donald Trump pledged greater support to fight the Islamist militants.

The blasts, said to have been carried out by young boys, happened shortly after 1pm (12pm GMT) in Mubi, some 200 kilometres from the Adamawa state capital, Yola.

The first bomber mingled with worshippers who had gathered for prayers at a mosque at the edge of the market, and detonated his explosives five minutes before prayer started.

The second bomber blew himself up among the crowds of worshippers, traders and shoppers as they fled the first explosion.

Imam Garki, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said a joint assessment with the police and Red Cross found that 26 people were killed and 56 were injured, 11 of them critically.

They were transferred to the Federal Medical Centre in Yola for treatment.

I think this is the worst attack Mubi has ever witnessed. The human loss is unimaginable.

But a medical source at the Mubi General Hospital said they had received 37 bodies, while a rescue worker involved in the relief operation said he counted 42 dead and 68 injured.

"These I saw with my own eyes. We were counting as they were being taken," said Sani Kakale.

Two local residents who attended funerals for the victims said the death toll was much higher - and could climb further.

"Before I left the cemetery I took part in the burial of 68 people. More bodies were being brought by families of the victims," said Muhammad Hamidu.

"I think this is the worst attack Mubi has ever witnessed. The human loss is unimaginable."

Abdullahi Labaran added: "We left 73 freshly dug graves where each victim was buried. There are still unclaimed bodies at the hospital.

US support

Suspicion for the attack immediately fell on Boko Haram, the jihadist group whose quest to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.

Mubi has been repeatedly targeted in attacks since it was briefly overrun by the militants in late 2014.

Nigeria's government and military have long maintained that the Islamic State group affiliate is a spent force and on the verge of defeat.

But there has been no let-up in attacks in the northeast, particularly in Borno state, adjacent to Adamawa, which has been the epicentre of the violence.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been in the United States this week and met his counterpart Donald Trump, who pledged more support in the fight against Boko Haram.

Nigeria has bought a dozen A-29 Super Tucano light fighter aircraft in a $496-million (413-million-euro) deal. 

Trump indicated a further order for attack helicopters was also in the pipeline.

"These new aircraft will improve Nigeria's ability to target terrorists and protect civilians," Trump told a joint news conference with Buhari in Washington on Monday.

The sale of the aircraft was previously blocked by the Obama administration after the Nigerian airforce mistakenly bombed a camp for people displaced by Boko Haram, killing 112.