Suicide bombers kill 24 in northeast Nigerian mosque attack

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 3/16/16, 03:25 pm

Two female suicide bombers killed at least 24 people and injured 23 in an attack on a mosque on the outskirts of Maiduguri, Nigeria, early this morning.

Abba Aji, coordinator for the civilian self-defense vigilante group, said one bomber exploded her device inside the mosque in the town of Umarari as worshippers said their morning prayers. The second bomber waited outside and detonated as people tried to escape. Rescuers discovered the bodies of the bombers and other injured people as they dug through the debris.

One witness, Umar Usman, said he was arriving late for prayers when the blast went off.

“We were just a few meters away from the mosque when a loud bang erupted and all we could see was dark smoke and bodies littered around,” he said.

A hospital official said family members already claimed 13 of the bodies for immediate burial in line with Muslim tradition.

Today’s bombing follows the February suicide attack on a camp for internally displaced people in the northeastern town of Dikwa, where two female suicide bombers killed more than 70 people.

While the terror organization, which is affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS), continues to terrorize Nigeria, it hasn’t spread far outside the country’s borders.

“It means that Boko Haram is still able to recruit and equip terrorists from within Nigeria,” said Ryan Mauro, a security analyst with The Clarion Project, a nonprofit that educates on Islamic extremism. “Boko Haram is not known to have successfully recruited foreign jihadists like ISIS has in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.”

Umarari is four miles south of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the home of the military command center combating the insurgency. The Nigerian military has reported some recent success in its battle against the terror group, with officials anouncing dozens of starved fighters surrendered this month after government troops blocked all food supply routes.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in January the Nigerian military has forced Boko Haram out of all towns. But the group remains resilient. Gen. David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, said it still holds “significant territory” in northern Nigeria.

For locals targeted by the terror group, the government’s claims mean little.

“We are left confused each time we hear soldiers saying no territory is now under the control of Boko Haram,” said Ngari Modu, who stays in a displaced persons camp in Maiduguri.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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