A suicide bomber has exploded a car at a checkpoint outside a military barracks and killed eight soldiers, witnesses said of the latest of daily attacks blamed on Boko Haram in Nigeria’s north-eastern city of Maiduguri.
More than 60 people have been killed by bombings and rocket-propelled grenades since Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced at his inauguration May 29 that the command centre for the war on the Islamic extremists is moving from Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, to the group’s birthplace in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state at the heart of the war zone.
Later, a second bomb exploded near the main market in Yola, the first such attack to hit the capital of neighbouring Adamawa state, police and witnesses said. At least two people were killed, police Deputy Superintendent Othman Abubakar said. Hospital workers said they were treating 30 injured.
“I can see blood splattered everywhere, including my car, but I can’t give any detail because we are all running,” said bread seller Ayuba Dan Mallam.
In Maiduguri, the bomber exploded the car as soldiers were checking it outside Brigadier Maimalari Barracks on bustling Baga Road during the evening rush hour, according to Bashir Malam, a fighter with a civilian defence group that works alongside the military.
Mr Malam said he counted the bodies of eight soldiers.
“The attack was so daring because the suicide bomber must have escaped several checkpoints to get to the soldiers’ spot,” he said.
The latest attack comes the day Mr Buhari was visiting neighbouring Chad, urging more support for a multinational force to crush Boko Haram.
Mr Buhari was welcomed warmly by Chad’s president Idriss Deby, who has complained that a lack of co-operation from the previous administration was hampering the war.
Battle-hardened Chadian troops have played a leading role in driving Boko Haram from north-east Nigerian towns and villages where it had declared an Islamic caliphate.
Nigeria on Wednesday announced a Nigerian general has taken over command of the multinational army from Chad, signalling the determination of former military dictator Mr Buhari to have Nigeria lead the fight against its home-grown insurgency.
The nearly six-year-old Islamic uprising has killed an estimated 13,000 people and forced 1.5 million from their homes.