Bomb blasts kill 10 in north­east Nige­ria; Boko Haram blamed

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YOLA, Nige­ria:

Two ex­plo­sions ripped through a bustling mar­ket in north­east Nige­ria’s Mada­gali town yes­ter­day morn­ing, killing at least 10 peo­ple and wound­ing 67, a sur­vivor and an of­fi­cial said.

The at­tack comes as Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment claims it is rout­ing the Boko Haram Is­lamic ex­trem­ists blamed for the blasts. The blasts oc­curred on the edge of the ex­trem­ist group’s Sam­bisa For­est strong­hold, which Nige­ria’s military has been bomb­ing ahead of ground as­saults. Since the military has dis­lodged the in­sur­gents from towns and vil­lages this year, they have been at­tack­ing soft tar­gets.

Mada­gali was lib­er­ated last year af­ter months in the hands of Boko Haram. It is 150 kilo­me­ters (95 miles) south­east of the big­gest north­east­ern city, Maiduguri.

Yes­ter­day’s blasts struck si­mul­ta­ne­ously at op­po­site ends of the mar­ket sell­ing grains and veg­eta­bles, ac­cord­ing to Ah­madu Gu­lak, a driver who was buy­ing tea there. He told The As­so­ci­ated Press he counted at least 10 bod­ies. At least 67 peo­ple were wounded and taken to a hos­pi­tal for treat­ment, said spokesman Sani Datti of the Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency. He did not have the num­ber of dead.

Po­lice spokesman Oth­man Abubakar con­firmed the blasts and said it was un­clear if the attacks came from suicide bombers or planted ex­plo­sives. A bus sta­tion near the same mar­ket was tar­geted by two women suicide bombers who killed at least 30 peo­ple in De­cem­ber 2015. In June, Boko Haram ex­trem­ists opened fire on mourn­ers at a fu­neral in Mada­gali, killing 18 peo­ple.

The attacks con­tinue de­spite gov­ern­ment and military as­ser­tions that the in­sur­gents are on the run. Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari had de­clared the ex­trem­ist group was “tech­ni­cally de­feated” in De­cem­ber 2015. Last week, a year later, he said a multi­na­tional force from Nige­ria and neigh­bor­ing states is ready­ing to “move si­mul­ta­ne­ously and spon­ta­neously for us to see the end of Boko Haram.”

Buhari said the in­sur­gents “are done for” in the Lake Chad Basin bor­der­ing Nige­ria, Chad and Niger. But the United Na­tions says more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple are be­lieved trapped there by on­go­ing fight­ing with­out food or med­i­cal help. Boko Haram’s seven-year up­ris­ing has killed more than 20,000 peo­ple and forced 2.6 mil­lion from their homes.

The United Na­tions has launched a $1 bil­lion ap­peal to help 5.1 mil­lion peo­ple in dan­ger of star­va­tion, call­ing the cri­sis in north­east Nige­ria the worst on the African con­ti­nent. Buhari has ac­cused the UN and aid agen­cies of ex­ag­ger­at­ing the cri­sis to seek do­na­tions. “The gov­ern­ment seems to be more in­ter­ested in manag­ing per­cep­tion,” Lagos-based SBM

In­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts said yes­ter­day, say­ing much of the cri­sis “is rooted in the in­ep­ti­tude of the (state) agen­cies in­volved, rife cor­rup­tion caus­ing di­ver­sion of the food aid, and the still-present threat of Boko Haram am­bushes, which make the pro­vi­sion of sup­plies a risky un­der­tak­ing.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press has re­ported that chil­dren al­ready are dy­ing of acute mal­nu­tri­tion in the rel­a­tively ac­ces­si­ble Maiduguri city. — AP

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