A suicide bomber exploded himself and killed four street-sellers Saturday at a bustling bus station in the northeast Nigerian town of Damaturu, witnesses said of the latest in a string of attacks this week by Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram extremists.
Five bodies were brought to the hospital mortuary and 15 wounded people are being treated, according to a nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to reporters. Most victims are women and children from among hawkers who sell smoked fish and packets of water at the exit gate to Damaturu Central Motor Park.
The attack comes weeks after the military and government had said the main fighting force of the insurgents was trapped inside the vast Sambisa Forest.
But on Wednesday night, hundreds of militants tried to attack the biggest military base in northeastern Nigeria, but were repelled by fierce resistance by troops at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the most populous city in the northeast.
On Friday, Boko Haram seized back the border town of Marte and hoisted its black and white flag, deputy Gov. Zannah Umar Mustapha told reporters.
Maiduguri is some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of the nearest reaches of the Sambisa Forest, and Marte is even further north.
A week ago, a gunman and suicide bomber attacked a business school in Potiskum, near Damaturu, killing a student and leaving many injured.
A multinational offensive of troops from Nigeria and its neighbors had driven the extremists from all northeastern towns in a 14-week-long offensive. But the Nigerians appear to have bogged down in the Sambisa Forest, where Boko Haram has laid land mines and booby traps.
Two weeks ago Nigeria’s military said it destroyed about 20 insurgent camps and freed some 700 kidnapped women and children.
Thousands have died in the nearly 5-year-old Islamic uprising, about 10,000 last year alone, and more than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes, some across borders.