Suicide bombers killed more than 60 people at a mosque and a market in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, in a twin attack bearing the hallmarks of Boko Haram and a day after US President Donald Trump pledged greater support to fight the Islamist militants.
The blasts, said to have been carried out by young boys, happened shortly after 1:00 pm in Mubi, some 200 kilometres from the Adamawa state capital, Yola.
Imam Garki, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said a joint assessment with the police and Red Cross found that 26 people were killed and 56 were injured, 11 of them critically.
They were transferred to the Federal Medical Centre in Yola for treatment.
A medical source at the Mubi General Hospital said they had received 37 bodies, while a rescue worker involved in the relief operation said he counted 42 dead and 68 injured.
“These I saw with my own eyes. We were counting as they were being taken,” said Sani Kakale.
Two local residents who attended funerals for the victims said the death toll was much higher and could climb further.
“Before I left the cemetery I took part in the burial of 68 people. More bodies were being brought by families of the victims,” said Muhammad Hamidu.
“I think this is the worst attack Mubi has ever witnessed. The human loss is unimaginable.”
Abdullahi Labaran added: “We left 73 freshly dug graves where each victim was buried. There are still unclaimed bodies at the hospital.
Conflicting death tolls are not unusual in Nigeria. The authorities have also previously played down casualty figures.
Suspicion for the attack immediately fell on Boko Haram, the jihadist group whose quest to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at least 20 000 dead since 2009.
Mubi has been repeatedly targeted in attacks blamed on Boko Haram since it was briefly overrun by the militants in late 2014.
Nigeria’s government and military have long maintained that the Islamic State group affiliate is a spent force and on the verge of defeat.
But there has been no let-up in attacks in the northeast, particularly in Borno state, adjacent to Adamawa, which has been the epicentre of the violence.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been in the United States this week and met his US counterpart Donald Trump, who pledged more support in the fight against Boko Haram.