At least 18 killed, dozens injured in Nigeria suicide attacks

Suspected female suicide bombers target a wedding, a funeral and a hospital in the restive Borno region.

People injured in the attacks lying in hospital beds. A man at the front is resting on his left side facing the camera. His head is bandaged. His eyes are closed. Others are lying in the beds behind him.
Some of the injured receive treatment at a hospital in Maiduguri [Joshua Omiri/AP Photo]

At least 18 people have been killed and dozens injured after a series of blasts by suspected female suicide bombers targeted a wedding, a hospital and a funeral in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State.

Three blasts took place on Saturday in the town of Gwoza, which lies across the border from Cameroon, Borno State police spokesman Nahum Kenneth Daso said on Sunday.

In one of the attacks, which took place at about 3:45pm (14:45 GMT), a woman carrying a baby on her back “detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) she had on her at a crowded motor park”, Daso said.

The suicide bombers reportedly also targeted a hospital in the same town. Another attack was later carried out at the funeral for victims of the wedding blast, authorities said.

“So far, 18 deaths comprising children, men, females and pregnant women” have been reported, agency head Barkindo Saidu said in a report.

Nineteen “seriously injured” people were taken to the regional capital, Maiduguri, while 23 others were awaiting evacuation.

A member of a militia assisting the military in Gwoza said two of their colleagues and a soldier were also killed in a separate attack on a security post. However, authorities did not immediately confirm the deaths.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.

Borno, a large swath of rural hinterland the size of Ireland, has been scarred by a 15-year violence that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions more.

Although the Nigerian military has degraded the capabilities of the armed groups, they still carry out deadly attacks against civilians and security targets.

In 2019, 30 people lost their lives in a triple suicide attack in the region, marking the deadliest mass killing by suicide bombers in the region that year.

Boko Haram and its splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), are the most active armed groups in Borno.

Over the course of the armed rebellion, Boko Haram has repeatedly deployed young women and girls to carry out suicide attacks. It seized Gwoza in 2014 when its fighters took over swaths of territory in northern Borno.

The town was taken back by the Nigerian military with help from Chadian forces in 2015, but the group has continued to launch attacks from mountains near the town.

The violence has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced about two million in Nigeria’s northeast.

The conflict has spread to neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to fight the armed groups.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies