Mosque blasts kill 55 in NE Nigeria

At least 27 people were killed in a bomb blast at a newly-inaugurated mosque in Yola, northeast Nigeria, on Friday, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

AFP| Updated: Oct 24, 2015, 00:57 AM IST

Maiduguri: Two bomb blasts ripped through mosques in northeast Nigeria on Friday, killing at least 55 people and injuring more than 100, as Boko Haram fighters seized a town in neighbouring Cameroon.

The attacks in Maiduguri, Yola and Kerawa again underlined the persistent national and regional threat from the Islamist militants, despite military claims of gains.

Fears will be heightened particularly in Maiduguri, which has been hit six times this month, killing a total of 76 people, according to an AFP tally.

Questions will also again be raised about how the militants are able to carry out such attacks on a regular basis, after similar attacks in the city last month claimed 117 lives.

The bombings also demonstrated the challenges facing the United States, which last week announced the deployment of up to 300 military personnel to northern Cameroon.

The contingent will conduct surveillance and intelligence operations against Boko Haram, including within Nigeria, at a time when attacks on civilians are on the increase.

The first attack in Maiduguri happened shortly after 5:00 am (0400 GMT) in the Jidari area of the Borno state capital, where Boko Haram was founded in 2002.

Umar Sani, a civilian vigilante assisting the military in the counter-insurgency, and local resident Musa Sheriff both told AFP there were two blasts at the mosque.

"I was involved in the evacuation. We counted 28 dead bodies apart from the two bombers, who were identifiable by the mutilation of their bodies," said Sani.

"Over 20 other people were injured."

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said only six people were killed and 17 others injured, while hospital sources put the death toll at 19.

Both Sani and Sheriff said two other people were arrested and handed over to the military for questioning after they were seen apparently celebrating following the blasts.

The two men were "standing from afar, hugging each other like a celebration, chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest)", said Sani.

"To them it was a mission accomplished," added Sheriff.

Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has previously targeted mosques and religious leaders who do not share their extremist ideology.