Abuja: At least 45 were killed Tuesday in two blasts that rocked a busy market in Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno and epicentre of Boko Haram’s violence in the West African country, medicos at a state-run hospital said.
At least 15 other people, some with mangled bodies, were also injured in the twin blasts which occurred at a place usually called One-Way in the busy Maiduguri market, Dogara Shehu, a health worker, told reporters.
“Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition,” Xinhua quoted Abu Modu, another health worker, as saying.
A Xinhua reporter at the hospital said he first saw 35 lifeless bodies, some decapitated, and 10 more bodies wheeled into the health facility as he was leaving the place.
When contacted, Ezekiel Manzo, spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), however, declined to give official figure of casualties recorded by his agency during rescue operation, ostensibly acting on orders by his superior officers.
Earlier, witnesses said two female suicide bombers wreaked havoc, noting the second explosion went off a few minutes after the first one.
“The first explosion went off at about 11 a.m. and, while people gathered to help the victims, another one went off, killing even more people,” said Abdullahi Musa, a witness.
Two large rescue vans of the NEMA, guided by an armoured personnel carrier, were immediately driven to the scene of the incident to rescue the victims and cordon off the area, a senior security operative said.
However, irate youths in the area, while blaming the incident on lack of security, disrupted rescue operations after the attack, a Xinhua reporter at the scene said.
The angry youths pelted officials, including the state police chief Clement Adoda, with stones, forcing them all to scamper for safety, the reporter added, noting the situation was brought under control by military officers who fired some shots in the air to disperse the protesting youths.
Rescue operation has since resumed in the area and the bodies of dead and injured victims had been taken to the State Specialist Hospital, situated near the scene of the incident, another security officer said.
Recent attacks in Nigeria have been blamed on the Boko Haram, a terror group which has its known headquarters in Maiduguri and proves to be a major security threat in Africa’s most populous country.
The violent attacks by Boko Haram, spanning five years, have claimed thousands of lives, including those of women and children.