Four people were killed in suicide attacks by two female bombers on Sunday, in the latest deadly violence to erupt in northeastern Nigeria after the military appealed for support to help fight militant group Boko Haram.
The two women — one of whom was just 15 — targeted a crowded market in Potiskum, Yobe State. A security official involved in the rescue operation said that “the second bomber was terrified by the explosion and she tried to dash across the road, but she also exploded.”
The attack came a day after 19 people were killed in a similar attack in neighboring Borno State perpetrated by a girl thought to be 10 years old.
Potiskum — a repeated target for the militants — was also hit on Saturday when a car exploded outside a police station, killing the driver and an officer.
The three explosions followed what is thought to be the worst attack in the six-year insurgency, when Boko Haram fighters attacked the Borno town of Baga and razed at least 16 surrounding settlements.
The Nigerian military said that descriptions of the Jan. 3 strike on the fishing hub as “the deadliest” in a rebellion that has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2009 were “quite valid.”
“The attack on the town by the bloodhounds and their activities since January 3rd, 2015, should convince well-meaning people all over the world that Boko Haram is the evil all must collaborate to end, rather than vilifying those working to check them,” defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said.
Nigeria’s military — west Africa’s largest — has faced repeated criticism for failing to end the Islamist insurgency, as well as allegations of human rights abuses.
Soldiers have complained of a lack of adequate weapons and even refused to deploy to take on the better-armed rebels.
In Baga, 14 soldiers were killed, Olukolade said, but independent corroboration of the huge numbers of dead cited locally has so far been impossible to obtain.
The UN Children’s Fund said harrowing reports from survivors of the attack and the use of a 10-year-old girl as a human bomb in Borno’s capital, Maiduguri, “should be searing the conscience of the world.”
“Words alone can neither express our outrage nor ease the agony of all those suffering from the constant violence in northern Nigeria,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement. “But these images of recent days and all they imply for the future of Nigeria should galvanize effective action, for this cannot go on.”
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