Two schoolgirl suicide bombers killed 45 people and wounded dozens in a coordinated attack on a crowded market in the northeastern Nigerian town of Madagali, an army spokesman said.
“From our updated records we have 45 dead and 33 injured in the twin suicide bomb explosions in Madagali,” said Sa’ad Bello of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Adamawa state.
The attack on Friday morning happened in Madagali, which was recaptured by Nigerian forces from Boko Haram fighters in 2015.
Ahmadu Gulak, a driver who was buying tea at the market, said the two blasts struck simultaneously at opposite ends of a grains and vegetable market. He saw many wounded taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.
“The two bombers were disguised as customers, detonated their suicide belts at the section of the market selling grains and second-hand clothing,” said Yusuf Muhammad, the chairman of Madagali local government.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blasts bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has carried out numerous suicide attacks in its seven-year campaign against the Nigerian government in the troubled region.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian capital of Abuja, said Friday was not the first time Madagali was attacked.
A bus station near the same market was targeted by two female suicide bombers who killed at least 30 people in December 2015. In June, Boko Haram fighters opened fire on mourners at a funeral in Madagali, killing 18 people.
“Since the town was retaken by the Boko Haram army more than a year ago, it has been attacked three times,” Idris said.
He added that Friday’s attack seemed to have aimed to cause maximum damage as it targeted the busiest sections of the market on the busiest day of the week.
“Today’s attack was expected because if the military made significant advance against Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest as they claimed, they have dislodged a lot of the group’s fighters and they have dispersed in the surrounding communities like Madagali,” he said.
Nigeria’s military has been bombarding the Sambisa Forest, near Madagali, ahead of ground assaults.
Boko Haram’s seven-year uprising has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2.6 million from their homes.