THREE bombings in northeast Nigeria’s largest city of Maiduguri killed 58 people on Saturday and wounded 139 others, the area police chief said, as a militant group suspected of carrying out the attacks pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).
Maiduguri has been a target of deadly suicide bombings and grenade attacks in a region under threat by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has declared a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria
“Reports from the three locations indicate that 58 are dead, while 139 persons were injured,” said Clement Adoda, police commissioner of Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital.
The attacks targeted crowded shopping areas and a transit hub in the city, according to a local vigilante group.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives at the popular Baga market in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. A second blast took place at the so-called Monday market, and a third went off at a bus terminal.
“This is perhaps one of the worst days in the history of this insurgency as it seems the terrorist group carefully selected centres of high human traffic in Maiduguri,” said Ibrahim.
Borno state government spokesman Isa Gusau didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone seeking comment.
Boko Haram killed more than 4,700 people last year, double the amount in 2013, risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft estimates.
The violence in Africa’s biggest economy comes three weeks before President Goodluck Jonathan will seek re-election against his chief challenger Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler.
The vote was delayed to March 28 from February 14 over safety concerns given the insurgency by Boko Haram.
The message pledging allegiance was via an audio recording, which could not immediately be verified. It was posted on Boko Haram’s Twitter account and appeared to be by the group’s leader.
It would be the latest in a series of groups to swear allegiance to IS, which has forged links with other militant groups across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
In November IS leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted pledges of allegiance from jihadists in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
-Additional reporting Mustapha Muhammad and Michael Olukayode (Bloomberg), BBC and AFP