At least 24 people have been killed in a double suicide attack on a mosque and a market in northeast Nigeria, police say.
More than a dozen were hurt in the explosions in the town of Mubi on Tuesday.
Abdullahi Yerima, police commissioner in Adamawa state, said a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the mosque at about 1pm (12:00 GMT) and a second bomber exploded a device 200 metres away as worshippers fled, Reuters news agency reported.
“As I am talking to you now, 24 persons are confirmed dead and the scene is cordoned off by anti-bomb squads and other security personnel,” state police spokesman Othman Abubakar was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
Two local residents who had attended the funerals of the victims told AFP news agency that more than 60 people were killed in the attack.
It was the second time in six months that dozens have been killed in an attack on a Mubi mosque. Last November, a teenage suicide bomber attacked worshippers as they gathered for morning prayers, killing at least 50 people in one of the region’s deadliest assaults in years.
Haruna Hamman Furo, the head of the Adamawa state emergency management agency, described Tuesday’s attack as “devastating”.
Roof ‘blown off’
Residents said they saw a young man wearing a suicide vest entering the mosque with the worshippers.
Isa Danladi said he was about to leave his house near the mosque when he heard the blast.
“The mosque roof was blown off and the prayer was midway when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives,” Danladi said. “This is obviously the work of Boko Haram.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blasts bore the hallmarks of the armed Boko Haram group, which has waged a deadly campaign of violence in Africa’s most populous country since 2009, and often deploys suicide bombers in crowded places.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in the insurgency, which has also forced some two million to flee their homes.
Boko Haram held territory in Adamawa state in 2014, but troops pushed the group out in early 2015 and Mubi was relatively peaceful until the suicide bomb attack in November 2017 that killed 50 people.
Insecurity has become a politically charged subject in the run-up to a national election next year that President Muhammadu Buhari – who took office in 2015 with a promise to end Boko Haram’s push to create an Islamic state in the northeast – has said he wants to contest.
Reporting from Abuja, Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan said the attack came at a “critical time”.
“The Nigerian army launched an intensive operation around Lake Chad where it is believed that Boko Haram members with allegiance and connections to ISIL are based out of,” she said.
“The Nigerian army has put a deadline to finish the presence of the Boko Haram group in at least about four months, but many question whether that’s possible given that the majority of the focus is on a military solution and not on a societal one.”