Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the main market in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Yola, killing 29 people and themselves, officials said Friday, blaming the extremist Boko Haram group.
Another 38 victims, some with serious injuries, are being treated in the hospitals in this city already swollen with refugees from the conflict, Sa’ad Bello of the National Emergency Management Agency told The Associated Press.
“I can see blood splattered everywhere, including my car, but I can’t give any detail because we are all running,” bread seller Ayuba Dan Mallam said shortly after Thursday night’s blast.
The explosion was timed to go off as merchants were closing shop, others were hurrying to make last-minute purchases and commuters were catching tricycle taxis home.
Deputy Police Superintendent Othman Abubakar blamed the Boko Haram extremist group and said two suicide bombers were among 31 corpses recovered from the scene.
It is the first such attack on Yola, which has had its population doubled by some 300,000 refugees fleeing the insurgent violence in the northeast that has killed some 13,000 people and forced 1.5 million from their homes. Boko Haram has been fighting for nearly six years to impose Shariah law across Nigeria. Half the population of 170 million is Christian.
Two hours earlier, eight soldiers were killed by a suicide car bomb at a checkpoint outside a military barracks in Maiduguri, the biggest city in the northeast some 410 kilometers (255 miles) northeast of Yola.
The Islamic extremists have stepped up attacks after a months-long lull during which a multinational force drove them from the towns where they had declared an Islamic caliphate.
More than 60 people have been killed since the weekend in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. Daily attacks started after President Muhammadu Buhari declared at his inauguration May 29 that he is moving the command center for the war from Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, to Maiduguri.
Buhari was in neighboring Chad on Thursday, urging more support for the multinational force in which battle-hardened Chadian troops have played a leading role.