90 killed in bomb and gun attacks in northeastern Nigeria

Suspected Boko Haram militants target villages in Nigeria's northeast

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 6:16am

At least 90 people died in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state after bombings and attacks carried out by suspected Islamist militants.

Two explosions on Saturday evening at a crowded marketplace in the Ajilari area of Maiduguri left 51 people dead, according to a body count by local people and anti-insurgent vigilante group members, Modu Kolo, a 33-year-old resident, said.

In a separate attack, gunmen invaded Mainok village, killing at least 39 people, said Bunu Kaka, a 42-year-old farmer who fled. The village was also set ablaze.

"As I was returning late at night, I heard gunshots as the attackers were moving from house to house killing everyone they saw," Kaka said by phone from Maiduguri, where he is taking refuge. "I then hid myself in the bush."

Nigeria's security forces are struggling to contain the Boko Haram Islamist group, which has carried out a violent campaign since 2009 to impose shariah law in Africa's most populous nation, which also the continent's biggest oil producer. Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin" in the Hausa language.

Attacks have continued after President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states last May.

Attackers were moving from house to house killing everyone they saw

In the Maiduguri blasts, improvised explosive devices were believed to have been planted by Boko Haram, Borno state military spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole said. He declined to give casualty figures.

"We are trying to fish out the perpetrators," Dole said.

The military spokesman said today by text message that he had no details on the incident in Mainok. Local media reported that the village was set ablaze.

The violence comes after international condemnation of a school attack last week in the northeast that killed at least 29 students. More than 600 people have died in the violence since the start of the year, Amnesty International said.

The National Emergency Management Agency said 56 people were taken to the hospital after the latest bombings, though the number killed in the two blasts couldn't be confirmed yet, said its northeast co-ordinator Mohammed Kanar.

"It was at a very crowded area with shops and small businesses," Kanar said from Maiduguri. "It's a very horrible situation."

The US State Department designated Boko Haram a terrorist organisation in November. Last week it said the group and Nigeria's security services were among the worst human rights abusers in the country in 2013.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people since it started the insurgency with attacks across the north and the capital, Abuja. Nigeria's 170 million people are almost evenly split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims.