Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 6 News List

At least 16 die as blast hits Nigerian bus station

AP, MAIDUGURI, Nigeria

An explosive device carried by a teenaged girl detonated at a crowded bus station in northeast Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least 16 and wounding 30.

Most of the victims were children who had either been selling peanuts or begging for money at the time of the explosion, witnesses said.

The suspected bomber managed to get through the security check at the entrance to the bus station in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, where the device detonated at 1pm local time.

“It was an eyesore looking at the scene, which is littered with chopped flesh and battered bodies of victims,” Hassan Umar said.

The suspected bomber was a teenager, Umar said, adding that he saw her remains.

“The girl that carried out the suicide [bombing] should be around 16 years old, because her face was a bit matured,” Hassan said.

At least eight bodies were taken to the mortuary at Damaturu’s Sani Abacha Specialists Hospital, a worker told reporters by telephone. The worker insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it fits the pattern of violence by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Muslim extremist group that caused an estimated 10,000 deaths last year and is fighting to impose Muslim Shariah rule over the nation.

Last year, Boko Haram began using teenage girls as suicide bombers, probably because they can sometimes evade security by hiding explosives under their garments. In April last year, the extremists kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls, who remain missing.

This is the first apparent suicide bombing in Damaturu. The city of about 90,000 people in northeastern Nigeria has experienced several attacks by Boko Haram in the past three years.

On Dec. 1 last year, Boko Haram attempted to seize Damuturu, but was repelled after a lengthy battle with many casualties.

In recent weeks, Boko Haram has attacked the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Those nations and others are planning to form a joint force to help Nigeria battle the extremists.

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