MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A woman suicide bomber killed many people at a crowded market early Friday in a blast that thundered across the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, witnesses said.
Trader Bukar Shettima said the explosion blamed on Boko Haram Islamic extremists lifted him off his feet and threw him to the ground. “Thank God I was not too close,” he said. “But I saw nauseating corpses and battered bodies of humans littering the ground.”
There was no exact toll from the carnage at Gamboru wholesale vegetable market as rescuers were still recovering bodies.
It’s the latest in a string of suicide bombings and village assaults that have killed hundreds in recent weeks. Most bombings have involved women or girls as young as 10, raising fears that the extremists are using kidnap victims as weapons. A bomb disposal expert has told the AP that most of the suicide bombers are strapped to explosives that are remotely detonated.
Nigeria’s military on Thursday announced its first major success in weeks: soldiers rescued 71 Boko Haram captives, almost all girls and women, in firefights that killed many Boko Haram militants and destroyed militant camps in three villages near Maiduguri.
Soldiers had rescued hundreds of other female captives including babes-in-arms in March, when an offensive led by Chadian troops forced the militants out of northeastern Nigerian towns where they had declared an Islamic caliphate.
On Thursday, Nigeria’s Defense Ministry appointed Maj. Gen. Iliyasu Isah Abbah to command an 8,700-strong, four-nation army to curb the Islamic uprising that has spilled across Nigeria’s borders.
President Muhammadu Buhari this week visited neighboring Cameroon to bolster support for the regional force whose deployment has been delayed since November by a lack of funds.
The 6-year-old uprising has killed 20,000 people and driven nearly 2 million from their homes.