Nigeria today ordered increased security around markets and places of worship after a twin suicide bomb attack killed scores of people in the country’s restive northeast. The emergency services said at least 26 people died in the blasts in the town of Mubi, Adamawa state, on Tuesday but local residents said they buried more than 60 victims.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, deputising for President Muhammadu Buhari who has been on a visit to the United States, said the government was “shocked and outraged” by the attacks. “This desecration of a place of worship by criminals is tragic and condemnable,” Osinbajo said in an emailed statement.
“Security agencies have been directed to immediately take steps to beef up security in Mubi and environs, especially markets and places of worship,” he added. The attacks came a day after US President Donald Trump promised Nigeria more support in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists, whose insurgency has killed at least 20,000 since 2009.
The jihadists have repeatedly used suicide bombers against “soft” civilian targets such as markets, mosques and bus stations across the northeast. One resident who attended funerals of those who died on Tuesday said he helped to bury 68 people. Another said 73 graves had been dug. Both said more bodies were to come.
“I think this is the worst attack Mubi has ever witnessed. The human loss is unimaginable,” said one local, Muhammad Hamidu. Since late 2015, Nigeria’s military and government has maintained that Boko Haram is a spent force, but regular bombings and raids suggest otherwise. Last week, fighters loyal to Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau attempted to infiltrate the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, but were pushed back by troops.
Security is expected to dominate the run-up to the next election in February 2019, at which Buhari will stand for a second term. He promised to defeat Boko Haram but is now facing a series of security challenges elsewhere, not least an escalation of violence in a long-running dispute between farmers and herders.