Nine people have been killed in a string of suicide attacks in Maiduguri, a city in Nigeria’s restive northeast where Boko Haram Islamists began a deadly insurgency in 2009, police said.
The attacks occurred as Nigeria began a two-day public holiday for Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Police said the bombings, which began late on Sunday, were carried out by seven suicide bombers, six of whom were women.
They targeted the campus of Maiduguri University and residential buildings in a district just northeast of the city, which is capital of Nigeria’s Borno State.
State police spokesperson Victor Isuku said the violence began when a male bomber blew himself up on campus, killing himself and wounding three security guards, one of whom later died.
Minutes later, four female suicide bombers entered a community on the northeastern outskirts of the city, with two of them blowing themselves up inside two residential buildings, killing eight and wounding another 11.
Another detonated her explosives without injuring anyone, while the fourth tried to do the same but was injured and arrested, later succumbing to her wounds, Isuku said.
Several hours later, two more female bombers staged another attack on the university, blowing themselves up without causing any casualties.
“In all, 16 people — including the (seven) suicide bombers — died in the multiple explosions while 13 people were injured,” Isuku said.
On Friday, Nigeria’s intelligence service said it had foiled a plan to carry out a series of coordinated attacks targeting Muslims celebrating Eid in several cities, including Maiduguri.
Nigeria’s military has said the group, whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead and more than 2.6 million homeless, is on the verge of defeat.
But Boko Haram has continued to mount sporadic raids and suicide bombings, including on June 19, when its militants killed at least 16 people near a camp for the displaced just outside Maiduguri.
The attacks came after a weekend of fierce clashes between Boko Haram insurgents and Chadian troops on several islands in Lake Chad, which borders Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
According to a spokesperson for Chad’s armed forces, the clashes killed eight soldiers and wounded another 18.
But he claimed that the operation had also killed 162 Boko Haram jihadists and destroyed many motorcycles which are often used in their deadly raids.
There have been frequent clashes on the many small islands of Lake Chad since the Boko Haram conflict began.
Both Chad and Nigeria, along with troops from Cameroon, Niger and Benin, are part of a five-nation regional force fighting Boko Haram.
On Sunday, Chad’s President Idriss Deby threatened to pull out of such peacekeeping operations because of a lack of foreign financial support.
“If nothing is done, if that goes on, Chad will be obliged to withdraw,” he said, describing the cost of participation as “excessively expensive.”
– By AFP