Explosives strapped to young girl kill 20 people at Nigerian market
KANO, Nigeria (CNN) — Explosives strapped to a girl, who was described as young as 10 years old, detonated at a crowded marketplace in Nigeria, killing at least 20 people and injuring 18 others, according to police.
The police estimate differed with the local hospital’s, which counted 51 people with blast injuries.
The suicide blast happened at the main entrance of the ever-crowded Monday Market, which is the city of Maiduguri’s largest market. Around 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, the girl was stopped for screening by vigilantes who man the gates of the market, according to witnesses and rescuers.
Among the 20 deaths included the girl, who detonated the improvised explosive device, said Gideon Jubril, Borno state’s police spokesman.
Although no one has claimed responsibility, Boko Haram militants are the main suspects.
This was the fourth suicide attack on the city’s market since last July.
Abur Babakura who was at the scene said the explosives detonated as the girl, who appeared about 10 years of age, was being screened with a metal detector at the market’s entrance. It’s standard procedure for people to be screened before entering the market.
“The metal detector beeped indicating she was carrying a metal under her dress, but it exploded before she could be singled out from the crowd,” said Babakura.
“We believe that (there) was an accomplice watching from a distance pressed the remote,” he said.
Two of the vigilantes manning the entrance were among the dead, he said. Many of wounded victims taken to Maiduguri Specialist Hospital have life-threatening injuries, said Musa Kyarimi, a nurse there.
The marketplace in Maiduguri has been a frequent target. More than 45 people were killed in late November last year in a twin suicide attack and more than 10 others died in another suicide blast a week later on December 1. Another suicide bombing on July 1 left at least 15 people dead and several injured.
Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings. It has also kidnapped students, including more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April and remain missing.
Maiduguri is the capital of Borno State. The deadly Saturday blast came after a bloody massacre in Baga, a fishing town about 125 miles away, where Boko Haram militants killed hundreds, possibly as many as 2,000 people. That massacre has been described as Boko Haram’s deadliest act by Amnesty International.
The Islamist group, whose name translates to “Western education is sin” has said its aim is to impose a stricter form of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.